The Greenery of Spring is All Around
Ro Wauer, March 30, 2003, The Victoria Advocate, © 2003
In spite of the daily news, one cannot help but be thrilled by the greenery of spring that has begun to dominate our South Texas landscapes. The bright to subtle green of our fresh foliage is almost overwhelming! The live oaks have begun to produce new leaves, after shoving out last year's brown ones, and the new catkins are producing the constant hum of bees. Bright green leaves are beginning to appear on my redbud, mulberry, hackberry, acacia, and retama trees. Even the honey mesquites are growing new foliage. All this greenery is a sure sign that spring has arrived.
Officially, spring beings with the spring equinox, on March 21. On that day, the earth's axis is at a right angle to the sun so that both poles receive equal illumination from the sun, and therefore the days are of equal length, hence equinox. Spring continues until June 21, the summer solstice, when the earth's axis is at it's greatest angle to the sun, when the noonday sun is directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer, and daylight lasts twenty-four hours north of the Arctic Circle.
Edwin Way Teale, author of "North with the Spring," provides us with an additional perspective: "Spring advances up the United States at the average of about fifteen miles a day... It sweeps ahead like a flood of water, racing down the long valleys, creeping up hillsides in a rising tide. Most of us, like the man who lives on the bank of a river and watches the stream flow by, see only one phase of the movement of spring. Each year the season advances toward us out of the south, sweeps around us, goes flooding away into the north."
It is the fresh greenery and the anticipation of new life that is most appealing. More than any other time of year, one can wander along a quite roadside or on a woodland trail and experience, up close and personal, the rebirth of the abundant plant life that has been dormant for months. Then is when it is possible to better understand the interrelationships of the earth and sunlight. It was John Muir that wrote: "In every walk with nature one receives far more than he sees."
But, what is that special metaphorical effect of spring that appeals to us so much? Perhaps, Loren Eiseley hinted at it when he wrote: "Once in a lifetime, if one is lucky, one so emerges with sunshine and air and running water that whole eons pass in a single afternoon without notice." Perhaps, it is the greenery itself, the green leaf pigment called chlorophyll, the one link between the sun and life, the conduit of perpetual energy to our own frail organism.
Plants, after all, are the key organisms on which the development of all other forms of life depends. It is the chlorophyll, that produces starch from the complex molecules of carbohydrates and proteins, which animals must eat by eating plants or by eating other animals that in turn have eaten plants, that is the basis of our living world. And there is no better time than spring, as we walk among the reawakening of Mother Nature, that the reality of our roots becomes so apparent.
The optimism of spring is everywhere. It is a wonderful time to be alive, to wander outdoors and experience nature at it's best. Promise is all around us, and fulfillment is just ahead. Fresh green leaves, bright new blossoms, birdcalls and songs, spring begins!