Spring’s necessity


By James McGuire

Contributing columnist

April is the time of resurrection—the first full month of spring, and the one we count on with all our hearts to deliver rampant, fecund proof that a brand new season has begun.

Nothing uplifts quicker, and puts the fizz back in our souls than a good dose of spring!

Spring is winter’s hopes and expectations personified. Midwinter dreams in a shiny emerald dress.

April is autumn’s counted-on promises kept—and our sometimes barely mustered measure of faith in the earth’s blessed rebirth fulfilled.

When April rolls around, our confidence in time’s reparation is abundantly justified.

Of course, if you base your belief and reliance on such matters as astronomical reckoning, the seasonal shift occurred back in March with the passage of the equinox. I don’t know about you, but that brief announcement in the almanac, and an asterisk on the calendar’s day, didn’t make me feel much comforted.

Doubtless, I’m too earthly, too naturalistic, too much a live-in-the-moment individual to get any lasting thrills from such dry and abstract news. It’s fundamentally impossible for me to believe in and find comfort from a mere mathematical formula.

I want—I need!—to see and hear, smell and touch evidence of this vernal reawakening. Yes, there were signs and portents in March—and a few even in February. But April is typically when the seasonal tide swells into an astounding and almost overpowering rush.

Spring is my favorite of all seasons. I love watching the sere gray landscape stir and reawaken after its long winter’s sleep.

Suddenly, buds and blossoms appear where only the day before, limbs were bare. The skeletal woods transforms. Brooks abruptly run full and loud, chattering their surgent, energetic messages—lively, burbling songs of the season.

Through the elemental alchemy of rain and sunlight and increasing warmth, the old earth-magic palpably renews and restores.

Leaves materialize and unfurl. Patches of various greenery appear and grow swiftly lush. Any last vestiges of late-winter doubts are fully laid to rest beneath a burgeoning vernal mantle.

A few weeks ago you could ramble woodlands and overgrown fields and see only a dull monotone of brown and gray. Now those same places exhibit a patchwork of color, as early wildflowers emerge to spangle meadows and forested hillsides with their ephemeral hues.

Up on Greenville Creek, there’s a long, parklike glade that parallels one of my favorite sections of stream. I dream about this stretch often during winter’s darkness. And I can’t wait to visit once spring rolls around.

But what draws me to the place as much as the fishing—which can be excellent—is the breathtaking wealth of glorious bluebells which thrive in the glade’s rich soil.

My mid-winter visions and bronzeback fantasies always include those showy bluebells.

Other streamside spots have their own wildflower charms.

There’s a damp floodplain corridor on Todd’s Fork which turns into a shining yellow treasure every April, with carpets of waxy buttercups.

One hillside along Wolf Creek sports its own distinctive yellow fanfare with ranks of nodding trout lilies.

And then there’s a secluded hollow on Seven Mile where the white blossoms of bloodroot appear as carelessly scattered stars.

The list is practically endless.

An incredible full-acre patch of large white trillium a’bloom in a bit of old-growth woods beside Paint Creek.

Meadows on Twin Creek that annually turn blushing pink with crowds of spring beauties.

A dandy bass hole on the upper Stillwater that’s always rimmed with Dutchman’s breeches.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been stopped in my piscatorial tracks to savor a stream’s adjacent show.

The lovely bluets in a glen of the Little Miami. The blue-eyed grass of unsung Rattlesnake Fork.

A stream fisherman might eat his lunch while seated upon a grassy bank sweet with violets. Or under a rocky cliff where trailing arbutus pleases his eye with their clusters of delicate pink flowers, their spicy fragrance filling his nose.

Not all these aforementioned blooms will be on display every April. For many, their annual appearance will come about in May. But this timeframe isn’t set in stone, and there are always surprises.

Spring’s itinerary is fluid, a transmuting, moveable delight. Early-spring’s lovely wildflowers tend to strut their stuff on a supple, rather unfathomable schedule, oft heeding some whimsy of weather and sunlight, wind and rain and possibly deeper, more mysterious forces which we mere mortals have yet to recognize and understand, let alone anticipate.

You just never know, but it pays to keep an eye out for the unexpected.

Sweet, sweet spring. How wonderful its joys and blessings…and how prosaic and bereft our days would be without it. I wholeheartedly welcome its coming!

April is truly spring’s necessity!

Reach the writer at [email protected]

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