In my humble opinion

Spring awakening

Posted 3/24/22

“Sunday, March 20—Spring begins.” That’s what it says on my calendar as I write this column, and when I read the words aloud to Dharma the Wonder Dog, my heart skipped a beat …

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In my humble opinion

Spring awakening


“Sunday, March 20—Spring begins.” That’s what it says on my calendar as I write this column, and when I read the words aloud to Dharma the Wonder Dog, my heart skipped a beat and she let out a little yip. I love living in the Upper Delaware River region for many reasons, including the opportunity to experience the change of seasons, but it’s no secret that winter is my least favorite.

 And just because spring officially began a few days ago does not mean we won’t see more white stuff in our future. It’s been a cold but almost snow-free winter, so I would not be surprised to get walloped between now and Memorial Day (it’s happened) but still… officially, spring has arrived and with it, one of my favorite times of year—“mud season.”

That’s defined on the Google as “the name given to the period between winter’s end (late March) and spring’s start (May) when unpaved roads, dirt paths, and hiking trails become a muddy mess from melting snow and spring rains.”

Maybe it’s the little kid in me, but I love mud season and believe me, so does my dog. And yes, that’s why older homes on the East Coast have what used to be called mud rooms, where we remove our shoes and boots, just outside the back door. Who knew?

There’s always plenty to do around Camp Fox once spring actually arrives, and I just bought myself a nice, electric leaf blower the other day, having been advised last fall to leave the leaves be (pun intended) over the winter. In fact, I also read on the internet to “resist the urge to clean up our gardens until after temperatures are constantly above 50 degrees because many butterflies, bees and other pollinators are currently overwintering in the dead leaves and hollowed out stems of last year’s plants.”

 I was hitherto unaware of this factoid but checked the veracity online, and apparently, it’s true. “If you clean out your gardens now,” the article read in part—and it’s gonna get cool again for sure—“we will be literally throwing away this year’s butterflies [oh, the horror!] and other beneficial pollinators.” Don’t shoot the messenger.

Therefore, I’ll hold off on using my new toy for a bit, since we’re expecting some overnights in the teens and low 20s for a week or three to come. Plus, the leaf-blower instructions are in French, so it might take me a minute to figure out how to put it together. Feel free to wish me “Bonne chance.” Oh, look! I’m already mastering the language of love.

And I do love spring. Lots of famous people have written lots of words about this season and a few favorites spring (pun intended) to mind.

Poet Mary Oliver (1935-2019) once wrote “Come with me into the woods where spring is/advancing, as it does, no matter what,/not being singular or particular, but one/of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.” I’m not a huge fan of poetry, but Mary’s words strike a chord, IMHO.

Fellow columnist Doug Larson (1926-2017), who wrote for the Door County Advocate during the mid-’50s through mid-’60s, must have been a fan of mud season as well, since he once wrote that “Spring is when you feel like whistling, even with a shoe full of slush.” Sounds like my kind of guy.

It’s that time of year when I look forward to walking the dog, slush or otherwise, if for no other reason than to see what has popped up overnight. And apparently English novelist—and yes, another poet—Charlotte Brontë, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood and whose novels became classics, wrote this: “Spring drew on … and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that hope traversed them at night and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.” One thing is sure—she had a much fancier way of expressing herself than I. I’m just the guy who likes mud, bees and butterflies. Go figure.  

These final spring words are attributed to someone I quote on a semi-regular basis, the Bard himself, William Shakespeare, who had this to say, “April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” Including my filthy, mud-covered, 12-year-old dog. Joyeux printemps!

Fun Fact: “Spring Awakening” is a coming-of-age rock musical with music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater. It is based on the 1891 German play “Spring Awakening” by Frank Wedekind. Set in late 19th-century Germany, the musical tells the story of teenagers discovering the inner and outer tumult of adolescent sexuality.

And this: Shakespeare is known as “The Bard of Avon.” He seems to have been given the title in recognition of his stature as the unofficial national poet (oy—that word again!) of England. It was only as the 20th century advanced that he became inextricably identified with that title.

spring, spring awakening, Dharma the Wonder Dog, Jonathan Charles Fox, mud season, Camp Fox


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