Spring arrived the other day — and as a northern gardener, it means so much. Despite the winter-like temperatures that continue to hold on, this spring is a milestone. Not only does it mark time in the calendar, it’s the light at the end of winter’s dark tunnel. It’s the promise of new, green growth and branches filled with buds, of garden clean-up and future plans. It’s hopes and wishes and dreams in the blink of a season.
Those were my thoughts — and feelings — as I sat in my South Florida backyard, staring at a tree that looked more summery than spring-like. In fact, according to my skin, spring arrived here months ago — even before I arrived in February — and this vernal equinox felt more like a summer solstice.
That’s when it struck me. Do gardeners experience something akin to phantom limb syndrome? Inside I’m cheering spring’s arrival. I imagine myself examining each inch of soil in a search for bulbs pushing through the last remnants of snow. After that, I’m clipping some of my neighbor’s forsythia branches to bring them inside for forced blooming. And then I’m removing fallen leaves from the hydrangea’s comb-like branches, giddy with the appearance of green shoots. Each of my senses is experiencing its own spring awakening.
Here in the subtropics, though, I’m searching for signs of the spring that I know, that I feel. Maybe it’s because this is my first actual change of season here or that I’m still green — so to speak — in a land that never seems to lose its green, but I can’t seem to find spring. Even a local radio deejay sounded overjoyed at the first day of spring, but before the notes of the next song could play, she took a step back and wondered aloud, “Does South Florida even have a spring?”
Of course, it has a spring — a different kind of spring — and I so badly wanted to do something to recognize the season that I knew, but nothing seemed to fit right. So I sat and stared at a tree and allowed my senses to enjoy the sensations of previous springs. Besides, this warm, moist Florida air seemed better suited for lounging — and reflecting.