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Lusting For Spring In Our Hearts

A cherry blossom tree on the Potomac. Not bad, eh?
Mark Wilson
Getty Images
A cherry blossom tree on the Potomac. Not bad, eh?

A friend of mine grumbled on Facebook recently about the phenomenon of people moaning in despair over April's weather. There's often a cold snap around this time, she pointed out. There's often unpleasant rain. There's often unpredictability.

It's true, of course. The delicate dance of when to put away the warm clothes and take out the short sleeves must be repeated every year, and then re-repeated in reverse the first time you go outside in early September and feel that the air has become slightly less hospitable than it was yesterday. It's true that we shouldn't act surprised. It's true that we should look at our calendars, nod sagely, and say, "Right on time."

But somehow, we manage to summon every April the impatience and restlessness that can only mean one thing: we are lusting for spring in our hearts.

It really is remarkable, though. It should be old by now, but it isn't. It's amazing. I literally allow myself to be amazed by the effect of the earth going around the sun. It happened again! I think. My part of the globe is once again getting more direct sunlight more of the time! It's as if I feared maybe it wouldn't. Maybe this would be the year that we chugged to a stop and it stayed January forever. Or worse, February. I should, in theory, be no more impressed by the arrival of spring than by the arrival of morning. I happen to have a huge window through which I can watch the sun come up, and I often do at certain times of year. But I don't have feelings about it.

I have feelings about spring. Every spring, I look forward to that first day that I can drive with the window down, even though I've been driving with the window down since I was a little girl. (I recommend accompanying this trip with the New Pornographers' record Mass Romantic.) Every spring, there's that one day. That one day, when you turn the corner. You hit the farmer's market in a shirt you've washed and dried a hundred times until it's fuzzy and pilling. The tables are crammed with berries that are a little early but they are there, and you ease past somebody slathering sunblock on a kid in a stroller. You take your berries home, but you eat several of them in the car on the way there, because hey – they're grown without pesticides, right?

It's true: We shouldn't grouse about the way winter hangs around. (Even though, in many places, this winter was worse than most.) We should be used to it. It starts to get better, and then it rains, it gets cold again, and we feel suspended and impatient, snapped back and forth between cold and warm. But all that angst is just part of the dance. We talk about the bad weather in part because it preserves that feeling of that one day. It's going to happen soon here.

I sing "Spring, Spring, Spring" from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers to myself at least once every year. Just because. (Well, just because it's pegged to spring, while the other major kicky musical number about animals mating seasonally is specifically pegged to June, and I can never wait that long.)

This weekend was a false start to spring and summer, but I bought a comfortable chair for my little balcony anyway. I went out and propped my feet up on the railing and, admittedly, watched an episode of Orphan Black on my tablet rather than simply gazing out at the sunny day. But it was air, so much air, so much warm-ish, good-hearted air.

There's always some smug Californian who wants to explain when it's 20 degrees in D.C. that it's 80 in Los Angeles. They send ... well, they don't usually send a photo of the out of doors; they send a picture of their phone telling them what the weather is like. It never changes here!they taunt. It is never winter! We have no seasons! I wear the same clothing year-round!

I try to muster some obligatory fist-shaking, I really do. But on the inside, I am smug. On the inside, I am thinking: enjoy your terrarium.

I would miss this rhythm if I lost it. I would miss this fevered relief at something as predictable and scientifically neutral as the movement of planets.

And it is rhythmic. Because in the fall, when it's been 95 degrees and sweltering for weeks, I will be just as in love with the first day when the leaves are crunchy and I throw a scarf around my neck and drink hot cider.

None of this should impress me; it's literally just the repeating pattern of the universe. But while almost everything else in the world, literally almost everything else on the planet, gets old, the coming of spring never does. We are still this grumpy because we are so ready. We are leaning forward, sniffing the air, looking for blooms, grabbing a jacket for one more stupid day of stupid jacket weather, in part because we know there's an end. It will be spring. It will get warm. There will be sun.

Lust so rarely comes with a guarantee.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.