Passenger’s seat offers new perspective on spring

Published 7:46 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Some random thoughts on spring:

This has always been my favorite season. Fall colors are spectacular and certainly enjoyable, but give me the emerging greens of spring.

Everything is so fresh, so full of life. Who couldn’t enjoy this season? Of course, there is always pollen to contend with, but you can’t go from winter to spring without it, and not much would be happening if it didn’t drift about each year.

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An important thing to remember about spring, though, is that you have to enjoy it when it comes or you’ll miss it, for the magic of spring is fleeting. One day, the oaks, maples and sycamores are bare, and suddenly they’re not. What appeared to be dead branches were just lying in wait, buds ready to explode into leaves when the time is right. And then, one day, they do, and the world is once again alive with new growth.

When we were young and busy doing whatever it was that we were doing during our “active” years, we sometimes tended to pay less attention to the seasons. I say that from experience because I too was guilty of it. As the number of springs we might logically hope to enjoy decreases, however, we tend to give more attention to the blessing of seeing yet another.

I have always thought that farmers had a greater appreciation for the change in seasons than most of us do. They’re more sensitive to soil temperature, moisture content and the resurgence of life generally during the spring.

Farming has changed dramatically during the almost 60 years since I left the land. It’s technical, science-driven and highly professional. Farmers today know far more about plant genetics, moisture retention and a host of other tools used to produce crops. But underlying all that knowledge are the basic laws of nature, and seasonal changes are paramount among them.

That knowledge — and that appreciation — isn’t the exclusive property of farmers, of course. It’s shared by landscapers, horticulturists, commercial and home gardeners and anyone else who regularly puts their hands in the soil in pursuit of a living or an enjoyable hobby.

You don’t even have to understand the workings of spring to enjoy it, however. Just sit back, slow down, relax and look around you. The world is coming alive before your eyes.


Nature’s coverup

One of spring’s great benefits is the camouflaging of man’s mismanagement of the world around us.

I had the occasion to ride, rather than drive, for a few days recently, and I’m always amazed at what you notice when you don’t have to keep your eyes on the road.

Our corner of the world is now bursting with life, for another spring has truly arrived, no matter how cold the recent days have been, and what I noticed riding along was the transformative effect spring has on the world.

Our modern lifestyle. Our obsession with “stuff” has too often created some rather trashy views along our rural roads. Old cars and other detritus are scattered about the countryside. The trash that is tossed into ditches is often blown into nearby woods, and when the leaves have fallen and the trees and honeysuckle are bare, there are some pretty ugly views along our highways and byways. We are, quite frankly, poor stewards of that which we have inherited.

Spring doesn’t erase any of that, but it softens the effect. Wooded housing lots that, in winter, are poorly kept, suddenly are softened by the greens of spring and flowering foliage. It’s as though Mother Nature, embarrassed by what we’ve done to her, wants to modestly cover herself. Each spring, despite our efforts to the contrary, she at least partially succeeds.


Sharing with the deer

One of the great joys of spring, for those of us who have some azalea plants, is to watch them in full bloom.

Most of ours are now 45 years old, but they still do fairly well, and this year they were full of blossoms — but only from the waist up. Everything below about 40 inches was bare. Those buds became fodder for the local deer herd during late winter.

I try to keep some liquid deer repellent — the stuff that smells like an open sewer for a few hours after application — on the plants during the azaleas’ budding period, and it works reasonably well if I don’t forget to apply it every couple of weeks. I obviously missed an application or two after rains this year because when the azaleas bloomed, they looked like a little boy whose mama had placed a bowl over his head and cut all the hair below it.

Ah, well. There’s always next year.


John Edwards is publisher emeritus of The Smithfield Times. His email address is