Spring is sprung – and I love it!

The in-between seasons

I love the in-between seasons. I find gentle spring more appealing than its hot-blooded successor, summer. I find autumn more appealing than its austere successor, winter.

In South Africa we are just entering into the first tentative days of spring, new leaves budding on the hydrangea bush (Saxifragaceae) at our front door, buds on the freesias (Iridaceae) and on the Brunfelsia (Solanaceae), promising warm fragrant days and scented evenings.

In the mornings I hear the dawn patrol of hadeda ibises coming up for the valley below in ragged formations, squawking and shouting at each other. In the garden the Cape robins hop about catching whatever they can to eat, their red breasts and little white patches on their heads glowing in the early morning sunlight.

Grey louries sit on impossibly thin branches at the tops of the trees shouting “go-way!” to all and sundry while clinging onto the perilously swaying branches, seemingly at every moment in serious danger of falling off.

Gusts of wind, cold, cold wind, remind me from time to time that winter has still not entirely let go. The wind blows some seed-pods off the tree next door which lie all over the lawn, making it look like autumn again.

Hydrangea leaves budding
Hydrangea leaves budding
Primula
Primula

The season of simple pleasures

Spring is the season of simple pleasures and love, the time for new beginnings in green shoots and buds. As Robert Frost wrote (in “A Prayer in Spring”):

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Spring has a certain hedonistic feel to it – one wants to bask in the present, feeling the glorious sun on one's back after the cold and austerity of winter.

Indeed spring is perhaps one of the most cliche-ridden seasons. Alfred Lord Tennyson's lines are famous and much-quoted (from “Locksley Hall”):

In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast;

In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;


In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;

In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.


Or as the Bee Gees sang more colloquially:

In the Spring , a young
man's fancy likely turns
to what he's been thinkin' of
He's thinkin' of love
In the Spring , a young man's
heart's begins to sing
Thinkin' of wedding rings
He's thinkin' of love
The chilly wintery winds, they blow,
In his heart , he's warm

Du Fu. Image from Wikipedia
Du Fu. Image from Wikipedia

It's the promise of new life which gives this season its special character, but one poet used the fecundity of spring to ironically point up the fact that the Tang dynasty in China, the time in which he was writing, was busy destroying itself with internecine warfare:

The country is smashed, hills and rivers remain.
The city turns to Spring, plants and trees grow deep.
Moved by the moment, flowers splash tears.
Resentful of parting, birds startle the heart.
Beacon fires have lasted for three months now.
Letters from home are worth 10,000 in gold.
I've scratched my white hairs ever scarcer,
until none will be left to hold hairpins to head.

Translation by Paul Rouzer

春望

國破山河在
城春草木深
感時花濺淚
恨別鳥驚心
烽火連三月
家書抵萬金
白頭搔更短
渾欲不勝簪

The poet was Tu Fu (also written as Du Fu) who lived in China from 712 to 770 CE and got caught up in the so-called An Lushan Rebellion which disrupted peace in China from 755 to 763 and saw Tu Fu live an itinerant, unsettled life, which nonetheless shaped his poetry for the better.

He became one of the greatest Chinese poets of any time, with an enduring legacy that sees him still revered for his technical brilliance.

Another Chinese poet of that era, called Uefu, wrote another spring poem:

The spring wind moves a spring heart,
My eye flows to gaze at the mountain forest.
The mountain forest's extraordinarily beautiful,
The bright spring birds are pouring out clear sound.

This one sounds less ambiguous and ironical than Tu Fu's.

Another lovely spring poem was written by Bai Juyi:

The pillow's low, the quilt is warm, the body smooth and peaceful,
Sun shines on the door of the room, the curtain not yet open.
Still the youthful taste of spring remains in the air,
Often it will come to you even in your sleep.

Vernal equinox

Spring is not only a season of the weather, it also has an astronomical aspect as the vernal equinox occurs during the months of spring. An equinox, of which there are two in a year, in March and in September, occurs when the daylight hours and the night hours are the same in a 24-hour period.

Of course the equinoxes, while occurring on the same day in both northern and southern hemispheres, are opposite. In other words the vernal (or spring) equinox in the northern hemisphere is the March one while in the southern hemisphere it is the September one.

Equinoxes have, for as long as humans know, been times of special magic. In all cultures they have been marked with festivals and religious symbolism. In Japan the vernal equinox is a national holiday. In some cultures it is seen as the beginning of the year, or as the middle of spring. Other cultures designate it Mothers' Day. For Christians the vernal equinox comes close to the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, and the time of Easter is calculated from the date of the equinox. Similarly the Jewish Passover is on the first full moon after the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere (it doesn't quite happen that way about seven times every 19 years).

"Onion-sauce! Onion-sauce!" he remarked jeeringly, and was gone before they could think of a reply. Mole enjoying spring. Illustration by Arthur Rakham
"Onion-sauce! Onion-sauce!" he remarked jeeringly, and was gone before they could think of a reply. Mole enjoying spring. Illustration by Arthur Rakham

From the sublime to the gor' blimey!

In conclusion I would like to share one of my favourite descriptions of spring, from that wonderful children's book The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. This passage describes Mole, who has been spring cleaning his home underground and he comes up above ground because “Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.”

“Hither and thither through the meadows he rambled busily, along the hedgerows, across the copses, finding everywhere birds building, flowers budding, leaves thrusting – everything happy, and progressive, and occupied.”

And finally, what would spring be without remembering that ridiculous little verse, spoken in a strong Bronx or Cockney accent, perhaps?

Spring is sprung,
De grass is riz,
I wonder where dem birdies is?
De little birds is on de wing,
Ain’t dat absurd?
De little wing is on de bird!

Copyright Notice

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2009

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Comments 20 comments

Pearldiver profile image

Pearldiver 7 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

Tonymac... Nicely written and an excellent hub. Thank you. We are like you, in that we are also being sprung at the moment. Perhaps it was your spring that helped your boys beat the All Blacks so well? lol.


judydianne profile image

judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~Mark Twain......... Thanks for your Spring hub!


Makiwa profile image

Makiwa 7 years ago from Australia

Yes it has sprung, even in Australia. Both the grass and you have riz. Beautiful - thank you


ralwus 7 years ago

I am envious. We are in the dog days of summer and next the leaves will be falling. I love the various quotes you have here, nice job Tony. I enjoyed it, 'specially the end.


BrianS profile image

BrianS 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

Totally agree with you on the spring and autumn options, I find summer can be a bit too warm especially for working and winter can get very cold in a house built for a Mediterranean climate. Spring and Autumn in comparison are delightful.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

I love your writing, Tony. Wish it were spring here too, so I could identify more closely. It's very hot and rainy in Louisville KY, with extremely high humidity. Thanks for reminding me how lovely spring can be.


Peter 7 years ago

Love spring, love your writing, and fondly remember every spring that little rhyme I learned at primary school with a Bronx accent: "...I wonder where dem boidies iz, de boids iz on de wing de say..."


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

We are just entering late summer in the UK. I am with you on the sentiment that Spring and Autumn are far better seasons than the two remaining ones.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

We are just entering late summer in the UK. I am with you on the sentiment that Spring and Autumn are far better seasons than the two remaining ones.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 7 years ago from South Africa Author

Thanks for all the comments - I feel truly blessed to live where I do and to have so many friends here on HubPages. I appreciate your comments very much indeed.

Love and peace

Tony


shamelabboush profile image

shamelabboush 7 years ago

Spring is the chief leader of all seasons... It prints the souls with its velvety and gentle breeze...


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

What a beautiful hub! We do not have spring here in the Philippines but I was able to experience spring when I studied in the USA for a year. So I can say that, I love spring too! I think there is something magical about it. Looking at buds and bits of green peeping from under the remaining snow cover was an experience I will never forget.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Spring is here and I love it Tony, I agree with you, autumn and spring are the best, Maita


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Maita - thanks for the visit and the comment. I appreciate it.

Love and peace

Tony


Robert Kernodle profile image

Robert Kernodle 6 years ago

Greetings Tony,

I was just outside today, Sunday -- blue, blue Carolina sky (USA), against which the freshly forming yellow-green oak leaves stood out beautifully.

I had to pull out my camera and try to capture a sense of those trees against that sky in that moment. I still shoot slides, and money is tight, so I violated my finances by starting to shoot more of them, never quite knowing, of course, whether the camera sees what I see.

Happy spring,

Robert


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Robert - thanks so much and I hope you will digitise those slides and share them with us sometime!

Of course we are heading into winter now, it being late autumn here. Cool evenings and lots of late rains making the possibiity of a really cold winter (by our standards) greater.

Love and peace

Tony


daydreamer13 profile image

daydreamer13 5 years ago

Spring is such a wonderful season that comes to remind us that nothing lasts forever, even a long winter. Brilliant hub!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Daydreamer - thanks for the super comment. I really appreciate it very much indeed.

Love and peace

Tony


swedal profile image

swedal 5 years ago from Colorado

Beautiful Tony, just beautiful. Spring is probably my favorite of seasons and I love this hub. It got me in the mood for what is to come over the next few months.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Swedal - thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. We're just about to move into autumn here in the Southern Hemisphere - so I envy you the expectation of spring.

Love and peace

Tony

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