We had an absolutely spectacular spring afternoon in downtown Columbus today. The sun was so bright it cast dark shadows on the ground, the sky was a deep blue, and the temperature hit the upper 70s. It was a perfect day for the downtown set to get out on the Scioto Mile, where I took these pictures on a walk after work. People were out in force, including three kayakers navigating the muddy Scioto currents and a guy walking along with a beautiful, bright yellow macaw. I should have gotten a picture of that, too, now that I think of it.
Tag Archives: spring
Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring
Happy Easter and Happy Passover to those who celebrate, and Happy Spring to everyone! The flower beds are telling us that the weather has finally taken a decided turn for the better, and while we may have a few chilly mornings ahead, it looks like we have wrung the last remaining vestiges of winter out of the forecast.
This is a beautiful time of year in the Midwest–a great time for walking, wearing a light jacket, enjoying deep gulps of the fresh, moist air, breaking out the golf clubs, and then heading back to your place to do some much needed spring cleaning. When spring comes, there is always a jolt of energy in the air.
We had some friends over for drinks last night, and Kish brought home these pink tulips to provide a pretty welcome for them. It’s always nice to have flowers in the house, and tulips are a special treat this time of year. On dreary March days, their beautiful colors and fresh scent remind us that, technically, the March equinox has passed and spring is here, and the real, blooming Midwestern spring is just around the corner.
Tulips also remind me of Grandma Neal, who had a taste for poetry and an astonishing ability to recall and recite poetry from memory. One of her favorites to recite when spring arrived was The Garden Year, by Sara Coleridge, which mentions tulips:
January brings the snow,
Makes our feet and fingers glow.
February brings the rain,
Thaws the frozen lake again.
March brings breezes, loud and shrill,
To stir the dancing daffodil.
April brings the primrose sweet,
Scatters daisies at our feet.
May brings flocks of pretty lambs
Skipping by their fleecy dams.
June brings tulips, lilies, roses,
Fills the children’s hands with posies.
Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots, and gillyflowers.
August brings the sheaves of corn,
Then the harvest home is borne.
Warm September brings the fruit;
Sportsmen then begin to shoot.
Fresh October brings the pheasant;
Then to gather nuts is pleasant.
Dull November brings the blast;
Then the leaves are whirling fast.
Chill December brings the sleet,
Blazing fire, and Christmas treat.
March, The Cruelest Month
On the morning when we “spring ahead” by adjusting our clocks forward one hour and implement Daily Savings Time, we’re dealing with snow and 30-degree temperatures in Columbus. Is spring truly ahead? The buses and cars rolling down the street are snow-topped, the asphalt has a cold, snowy shimmer, and the promise of an early spring has been dashed by this dusting of the white stuff. What’s more, the forecast is for dreary, cold temperatures for the next 10 days.
I disagree with T.S. Eliot: in the Midwest, March, not April, is the cruelest month. Whether it comes in like a lamb or a lion, March invariably teases us with warm days where the promise of spring is definitely in the air, then crushes our hopes with cold temperatures, cold winds, and snow. March is the month with the most unpredictable weather, and it comes at the precise time when we most want to put winter behind us and enjoy the delights of spring.
Here’s the beginning of Eliot’s The Waste Land. Substitute March for April, and it remains apt:
April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
That Spring Thing (II)
A glorious spring weekend continued today in Columbus. The grass was lush and bright green, the sky was blue, and the air was warm and bore a light floral scent. It was a perfect day for a walk on the Scioto Mile and the Olentangy River trail—as countless cyclists, joggers, walkers, and skateboarders recognized.
Spring never seems to last long in Columbus; we tend to move directly from winter to summer with barely a breath of spring in between. Even the temperatures this weekend have been more like summer than spring. It’s important to enjoy these beautiful days when they are here. Regrettably, they’ll be gone soon enough.
That Spring Thing
After a bout of remarkably foul April weather— featuring some late snow, cold temperatures, and incessant rain—things took a turn for the better today. The sun came out, the thermometer touched 70, and on the Statehouse grounds tulips, daffodils, and flowering trees were all in bloom.
Hooray for spring! And with fine weather like this forecast for the weekend, too, it’s time to get outside, take some deep gulps of fresh spring air, and shake off winter, once and for all.
Fiddleheads Come Forth
Winters in Stonington can be harsh, and spring comes later than it does in the Midwest. But it does arrive . . . eventually.
One sure sign of spring is the emergence of the fiddleheads. Our down yard is fiddlehead territory, with lots of ferns growing among the rocks. They get wiped out during the long winter, but they are hardy plants that are used to the cold, wet, windy conditions. When spring growing season is upon us, these little fiddleheads shoot up from last year’s dead debris. Soon they will unfurl like flags to expose their fronds, and then the ferns will grow like crazy. By mid-June we’ll have ferns and their bright green colors dappling every nook and cranny of the down yard.
When the fiddleheads come forth, it’s time to start planting your flowers.
Spring Snow At Schiller
Much as I hate the idea of snow on the ground on April 21–and more snow falling, even now–I have to admit that the snow gave a pretty new look to Schiller Park during my walk this morning. You could still see some of the color of the flowering trees beneath the layer of snow, and the heavy, wet snow on the leaves brought many of the limbs of the trees over the sidewalks down low, requiring you to duck and steer between low-hanging branches as you walked. And snow bombs, with clumps of snow being shaken off the trees and falling on we pedestrians below, were a constant hazard.
As I walked, I thought the park looked different in this snowfall than it does during the winter months. It took me a while to figure it out, until the bright green, grassy circles that surrounded every leafed-out tree clued me in. The canopies of leaves were shielding the grass from the snow and holding it above. Unlike their skeletal look after a winter snowfall, the trees looked full and bright, almost as if the snow were flowering buds. That thought almost made the falling snow and the cold tolerable.
The temperature started to plummet last night, the clouds rolled in, and this morning we woke up to a fresh—and utterly unwelcome—springtime snowfall, as shown in this picture from our screened porch taken a few minutes ago.. The temperature is right at 32 degrees Fahrenheit now and is supposed to rise gradually, but it’s not going to get above the low 40s today.
In short, it’s not exactly an ideal spring day.
That’s Midwestern weather for you. It defines unpredictability. April 20 and 21 is pretty late for snow, but the folk wisdom in these parts tells us that late snows and freezing temperatures at the end of April or even early May aren’t unprecedented. The prevailing view is that you shouldn’t plant flowers until Mother’s Day, in order to avoid a belated hard freeze that kills or cripples your new plantings. That little nugget of local gardening doctrine, which Mom repeated on an annual basis, obviously is based on years of harsh experience.
And this year, the folk wisdom has been affirmed once again. I’m glad I haven’t done anything in the planting arena before now. I’ll also be glad when the snow melts and we get back to a reasonable approximation of spring.
Springtime At Schiller
During the week we were out in Arizona, spring arrived in central Ohio in a big way. Trees are beginning to leaf out, flowers are showing their colors, the grass is a bright green, the flowering trees are in their glory, and there is a gentle, floral scent of spring on the freshening breeze.
It is a beautiful time of year, and there is no better place to enjoy the delights of spring than Schiller Park. The garden club has been busy, and the grounds of the park look marvelous. This morning, conditions were perfect for a stroll through and around the park, with cool temperatures and bright sunshine. I wasn’t the only person who thought this was a good idea, either; the park was packed with people, and dogs, all enjoying a romp outside in the beautiful surroundings. We’ve all got spring fever, and a great park like Schiller is an ideal place to let the fever take hold.
Ducks On The Run
This is the time of year when the ducks in Schiller Park are out and about. Instead of hanging out at the pond, as they typically do, at this time of year they clearly feel a certain wanderlust and could be anywhere–crossing the street, emerging from underneath bushes, or strolling across the lawns.
It can be a bit unnerving as you walk in the pre-dawn darkness. You’ll suddenly detect movement near your feet in the gloom and feel a surge of adrenalin in response to the unknown, and the next thing you know there are a pair of ducks waddling past, murmuring in apparent indignation at your presence. With the DuckShock over, you breathe a sigh of relief and continue on your way.
The roaming ducks always seem to be in female and male pairs, which makes me think the wandering is intended to secure a little privacy, away from the rest of the flock at the pond, for some springtime mating. I always feel a little bad for interrupting the roving of my waterfowl chums–whatever they are doing.
I saw these bright, beautiful flowers as I walked through our neighborhood this morning and it gave me a boost. Spring is coming, and this year we sure can use it!
Speaking of spring ahead — remember that tomorrow is the day to move your clocks up an hour as we roll into Daylight Savings Time.
That Outdoor Urge
Yesterday the temperatures were still cold, but it was bright and sunny. It’s clear that we are on the cusp of spring, and I felt this irrepressible urge to go outside and do something. Not just take a walk — actually do something that would fall into the “outdoor chore” category.
So I gave in to the impulse, bundled up against the cold breeze, put on my sunglasses, and went outside ready to do just about anything. I swept out the back porch to remove all of the leaves and dirt and dust that had gathered there over the winter, swept the patio stones and the brick walkway, surveyed the trees and shrubs, and picked up leaves and twigs so that the backyard and patio would be free of debris and our little pod of grass would have the best possible spring growth conditions.
Then I moved to the front of the house, swept the front steps and the brickwork, swept the front sidewalk, and collected and disposed of the flotsam and jetsam that had emerged from underneath the accumulated pile of snow in our front beds. I even retrieved a plastic grocery bag that was blowing down the street like a tumbleweed, and then used it as I walked up and down the street to pick up some of the inevitable post-snowmelt litter, so that our neighborhood would be ready for spring, too. At the end of the process I surveyed my efforts and internally pronounced them as good.
I’m a big believer in the notion of human beings reacting, instinctively, to seasonal changes. I certainly feel that I do. The days grow longer, the sun shines, the world grows greener bit by bit, and you can feel a surge of energy after the winter doldrums. It’s a good feeling.
When The Weather Breaks
Yesterday winter’s hard stranglehold was finally broken. The temperature shot up to the mid-50s, we saw a huge snow melt that finally freed the streets and sidewalks from most of the snow and ice accumulation, and we got some very warm sunshine in the late afternoon. With patches of grass emerging after weeks of snow cover and our bushes showing their first, faint signs of green buds, it was hard not to feel a surge of optimism that spring might be not far away, after all.
The days when the weather breaks are special days, and I sat on our back porch to try to take it all in. We’ll still have some tough weather, of course, and some more snow and cold temperatures, but for now we’ll feel good that the worst of the winter may be behind us.
Last Of The 30s
It’s obviously stupid and pointless to get mad about the weather, because there’s absolutely nothing that can be done about it. We’re human, though, and we just can’t help ourselves, can we?
I try not to let the weather bother me, and appreciate the crispness of a cold morning. But when the cold morning is temperatures in the 30s in May, such that people have to put throw rugs and garbage bags and towels over their planters and window boxes to avoid the untimely demise of their flowers due to freezing temperatures, I admit that it does bug me a little.
Today, though, I celebrate. Today, I will glory in yet another in an interminable series of unseasonably cold, clear spring mornings. I will bundle up and don my oft-used stocking cap and gloves. I will walk with head held high, breathe in deep gulps of frigid air, and note, again, how the chill tends to sharpen the smells as I clean up after Betty on our walk.
Because today is the last of the 30s temperature days. It’s 34 right now, and once the thermometer rises past 40 we won’t see the 30s again for months. In fact, the weather apps suggest that we’re going to pretty much go straight from November weather to mid-June, with temperatures getting up into the 80s by next week.
We know it’s silly to let the weather get to us, but since it’s part of the human condition, why not embrace that fact? If you live in the Midwest, join me! Take this opportunity to celebrate the turn and the final, long-overdue departure of the 30s temperatures. Let’s give them a really good send-off, bid them a happy adieu, and let them know that we want them to stay away for a long, long time.