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Season’s greetings

A glorious day! Spring has begun! The first day of Spring 20th March. It was in the news. Would you believe such rubbish? Seasons don't happen to our calendar, they happen to us. I remember many March 20ths when the weatherman forecast wind and rain and temperatures below normal. It is difficult to predict the first day of Spring, for seasons aren't exact quadrants of the year; they're the special moods of our lives.

"For lo! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds has come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."

The first day of Spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.

When I conjure up images of Spring, I remember the scenes from my childhood when, with that nameless pathos in the air that dwells with all things and makes them so sweet and fair, the teacher would urge us to go out and see Nature's riches and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth. "It is an injury and sullenness against Nature not to do so, when the air is calm and pleasant in this vernal season of the year," my teacher used to say.

Although seasons have unpredictable arrivals, we sense the exact moment when they present themselves. We feel Spring when it comes.

That's when there is paint on everything in sight. Youth is like Spring and Spring fills you with youth and energy, vim and love for life, for it is a call to action. It's pink and white are everywhere. It's when you wish to sing with John Logan:

O, could I fly, I'd fly with thee

We'd make with joyful wing

Our annual visit o'er the globe

Companions of the Spring!

or with Omar Khayyam:

Come, fill the Cup and in the first of Spring

Your Winter garment of Repentance fling

The Bird of Time has but a little way

To flutter and the Bird is on the Wing!

When the cold, arid air mercilessly drills into our nostrils, it is Winter and when the days are sunny, warm and balmy and you go swimming and treat yourself to cones of ice cream and cold drinks, it is Summer; but when there is budding everywhere, and buds do not forget to blow and when the season comes up with soft mists in its hair, rides no horses down the hill but comes on foot slowly, softly, gently like a goose sailing on the surface of a serene lake and it throbs with life and color, it surely is Spring! Spring comes like the silver needle-note of fife, like a white plume and a green lance and a glittering knife and jubilant drum!

George Meredith put it thus:

For iron Winter held her firm

Across her sky he laid his hand

And bird he starved, he stiffened worm

A sight less heaven a shaven land;

Now the North wind ceases,

The warm South-West awakes.

The heavens are out in fleeces

And earth's green banner shakes.

We are blithe in Spring. The book you read in the throes of Spring bears a different message from the same book in the dead of Winter, when you are pinned down indoors and deafened by days of driving rain on your roof. In Autumn, when you enjoy a walk in the cool, bracing air, kicking the leaves that keep falling and render the trees naked, it is different still. In Summer, when you enjoy a swim, a cold shower, a cone of ice cream, it is again different. But in Spring when you take in a deep breath and spring to life as you replenish, it is even more different.

It is because Spring is the action or time of rising or springing into being or existence; as the trees burst into leaf again, so do you.

Well, I agree. March 20th, the first day of Spring is the season between Winter and Summer, reckoned astronomically from the vernal equinox to the summer solstice. "O, Wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" sang Shelley.

There are four seasons in the year: Winter, Summer, Spring and Autumn. Again, rubbish!

These seasons color and twist our perception of reality to fit their idiosyncrasies.

There are more than just four seasons:

Half the world's people endure months of incessant, torrential monsoon rains. Other parts of the world will tell you about the mud season which is wedged between Winter and Spring, and there is also the Indian Summer of the North Americans, which is Summer's last hurrah and is considered a fickle little season. Then there is the well-known hamsin in Israel that comes in Spring, Winter, Summer or Autumn.

From my early childhood in Baghdad, I can still remember one more season which is huddled between Spring and Summer, when brown dust fills your house your hair and when the brown color on your car in the street matches the color on your desk and your bed sheets.

O, God, how I love all four seasons of the year; treasure, need and celebrate them all. Yet, my friend, Spring, remains my favorite. 



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