abrupt transition into spring

Spring keeps making tentative forays into Brooklyn and disappearing. Three weeks ago it was 50F/12C; this week it was back to freezing. The snow melted, layer by layer, in the middle of the month, only to pile back up on the 20th, the “first day of spring”. At least the throwback to winter didn’t include an Arctic blast: one month ago it was 4F.  I found myself unable to translate that into Celsius for my mother: it doesn’t go below -5 most winters in Victoria or Vancouver and i havent figured out how to put my phone on metric yet. (I refuse give up Celsius, “zed” and the word “chesterfield”.)

Spring is such a relief though. Like most Pacific Northwest citizens, I still have seasonal affective disorder, which, like all Northwesterners, I self medicate with a lot of coffee. When the clocks go forward and the sun comes out, my first instinct is to ditch my jacket and make up an excuse to go outside.  In Vancouver, the first day like this would be the day when everyone would wear shorts and start playing Frisbee. The sheer joy at spring makes up for the long, dark, rainy winter in BC. In Los Angeles, the lack of winter meant there was no cause for celebration of spring. I spent seven springs in LA, but LA was always so green, so surprisingly lush, that outside of a few rainy days, spring didn’t make a difference like it does to the world outside SoCal.

It seemed spring came early to Cascadia this year though: all my friends in the Seattle/Vancouver area have been gleefully posting photos of cherry blossoms and Kits Beach, blooming flowers and sunshine over Puget Sound. The conifer trees that seem so dark and forbidding in winter now just show as an deep green contrast to the blue of the waterways. And every Facebook post from the Northwest is immediately followed by a string of angry comments from everyone Back East.

Still. Despite feeling sometimes like its never going to end, a feeling intensified by snowstorms in March, winter in NYC isn’t that bad. I don’t have to drive in it, and even the subway delays are better than being stuck on icy roads, or driving in a blizzard. And it isn’t THAT cold. I’m geared for even the worst chills here thanks to my sister’s Canada Goose coat hookup and the Sorel snow boots my mom gave me for Hanukkah last year. It isnt Toronto cold, or Chicago cold. But NYC attracts the dramatic, me included. There is a lot of hand flinging and overemphatic sighing and general OMG THE SLUSH LAGOON MONSTERS throughout the season.

The winters feel so long to me because I’m used to that spring in February thing. I remember being maybe the size Ben is now and looking at all the flowers in the yard around my home in February: the snowdrops and the crocuses. By March, there should be flowers everywhere, leaves on trees, cherry blossoms in drifts. In my memory of February, the rain stops for whole afternoons at a time, and I can go outside to play. So when winter keeps going, and the extreme cold is still present, it’s just…wrong. Even after seven years without seasons, my internal seasonal clock is still synched to Victoria, BC, and therefore, winter is taking too long.

Last Friday, the winter made a horrible recurrence, and it even threatened to affect my evening. It was the first legal day of spring, and yet it was snowing: a full on sticky snow. I was scheduled to go out that evening with my friends, and the snow threw a wrench in our planning. What if it snowed the promised five inches and destroyed everyone’s cute shoes?? It’s fortunate that no snow can keep us from our appointed rounds to Bootie. The snow last Friday was winter – postcard beautiful, sticking to trees perfectly, framing every landmark with the kind of aesthetics that don’t even require Instagram filters to look picture perfect. But as I looked out on it from my meeting above Bryant Park, I could no longer see the classic beauty of New York with fresh winter snow. Instead, all I could see was my suede boots being trashed and the threat of my rainboots instead. That says a lot about how heartily sick of winter I was last week: so much so that I couldn’t appreciate the winter scene at Grand Army Plaza, a scene so perfect in its black and white lines at night that my Uber driver did snap a photo in his iPhone while stopped at a stoplight.

Today, I think it is actually spring though. Not a teaser, not a trailer, not a spoiler alert, but spring. The sun has been coming out longer each day, and each day has the illusion of being longer thanks to daylight savings. And the air has that soft quality that comes with spring in northern regions. Two weeks ago there were still piles of decaying filthy snow on the ground, but now they’re reduced to a few scraps of snow in outer boroughs. Iwatched every day as Central Park went from a solid white blanket to patchwork, and now is back to green grass and bare trees. The last scraps of snow are almost gone, and only a few patches of ice, remnants from the first storms in January, remain on the ground.

So tomorrow will be a better, warmer day. The trees and flowers will bloom. It will be those few beautiful months before everyone switches over to OMG HUMIDITY MONSTERS.

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