March supposedly gusts in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, which makes for one bizarre animal.
With the first official day of spring shh-proinging somewhere in the month’s middle, we’ve got a fairly confusing situation happening out there.
Let’s call it Spring Between. Here in the South, we’ve about turned the corner where Old Man Winter waves to us wanly in the rearview mirror. But it’s not quite time to celebrate, as objects may be closer than they appear.
One day the air whips your cheeks with a hard chill, inspiring thoughts of fuzzy toe socks, hearty stews and holing up for the entire season of True Detective. The next day, the sun bakes down hard enough to sear a steak and incinerate your retinas. That night, a freezing rain destroys the tomato seedlings you naively planted while under the influence of heatstroke.
Two afternoons later, pollen sprinkles down off the live oaks like the devil’s confetti, dusting every surface in a golden shimmer and involving your sinuses in an extremely unfair game of Tickle Monster.
Come dawn, that same pollen is torturing your windshield in sticky little icicle smearings that can only be removed with an industrial pressure washer.
And so it goes, day in and day out of willy-nilly weather and tempestuous temperatures. Basically, Spring Between is what happens when the Bipolar Vortex forgets to take its medication.
March’s mercurial elements means no matter what fabulous outfit you carefully laid out and possibly Instagrammed that morning, you’re always dressed wrong. Try to provide yourself some dope shade and an obnoxious wind is bound to come blow that plaid porkpie hat right off your head. Bundle up for a long day at work only and you’ll only end up dragging your jacket around all day like a pleather albatross.
It doesn’t matter what the weather apps forecast; somehow they fail to prevent legions of teenage girls from shivering in tissue-thin sundresses under a disingenuously cloudless sky.
And how many of us closet space-challenged folks make the prevalent seasonal mistake of packing away the winter wardrobes in the attic only to be caught, quite literally, with no pants? I’m willing to bet that the hideous fashion faux pas of pairing shearling boots with Daisy Duke shorts originated as a desperate side effect of Spring Between.
Even the poor flowers don’t know what to do with themselves.
The camellias are looking a little exhausted, having been churning out blooms since December. Clusters of daffodils began trumpeting their saffron-suited arrival in mid-February, but their tune wanes. All the bright, smiling pansies coloring up our yards have begun to resemble certain past-their-prime Pinkie Masters patrons who need to be peeled off the floor come last call.
Our famous azaleas haven’t quite hit their glorious stride just yet, so many still nestled in their spiral buds, peeking out here and there from the shrubbery like pink and white fairies. Azaleamania is one of the best and most beautiful virtues of our sublime Savannah springs, and the minute our fair city erupts into its yearly riot of color is when you’ll know the season has staked its claim.
Until then, however, we remain in the nebulous, incommodious state of Spring Between.
Naturally, the noncommittal atmosphere extends to us humans. There’s a particular flavor of seasonal affective disorder in the air, not the dark doldrums of winter’s discontent or the amorous elation of the One True Spring, but rather an attitude of apathy characterized by long, vacuous stares off into the ether punctuated by bursts of hyperactivity.
Persons suffering from Spring Between Apathude can be easily recognized; just look for the sneezing and strange sunburns. (Toe socks with flip-flops are also a dead giveaway.)
One minute, they’re nodding off in front of their computer screens; the next, they’re stripping down to their skivvies at Forsyth Park on their lunch hour, throwing a Frisbee in their dress loafers with the hippie kids. Before the nice fellow with dreadlocks can toss it back, they’ve already laid down for a nap.
It’s no coincidence that school spring breaks are planned and sick days cashed in over this period, since at this point classrooms and offices can no longer contain the dispassionate fury and raging indifference towards anything to do with math, spreadsheets and deadlines.
Even if you’re not consciously aware that the Earth’s plumpest part is passing the direct center of the sun on March 20, you may find yourself overcome with a sudden urge to drive to Florida for absolutely no reason or spend several hours contemplating the symmetry of your dog’s whiskers.
Practically every culture and religion has its own way of observing mid-March’s teasing promises. The ancient Romans celebrated a festival called Hilaria, an orgiastic procession to the goddess Cybele that involved “whipping and scourging” to thaw oneself out of the past season’s chilly torpor. Many young people mirror this custom (minus the castration rituals) by flocking to beaches and stubbornly offering up their pale flesh to the elements.
No matter what, the vernal equinox this Thursday means another spring has come, whether the weather agrees or not.
We are so done with winter, even if we have to ignore its last gasps while drinking hot chocolate in our bikinis.
Then again, what’s the rush? Though the earth may move through its intractable, timeless cycles, we’re wired to move in only one direction.
A new spring serves to remind that each of us will come to the end of our own individual march eventually. Maybe it’s best to just relish every minute in between.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be outside in short-shorts and my grandma’s fur coat, keeping a close eye on the azaleas.