Spring is a fascinating time of the year, even if winter unpleasantly returns for this week. Besides sharp changes in the weather, the color palette undergoes dramatic changes. White, gray, and black snowdrifts give way to brown and yellow grass, which gives way to verdant yards speckled with an occasional white clover or yellow dandelion. Flowering shrubs, early blooming flowers, and brightly plumed songbirds are colorfully resplendent. Seeing plants poke up through the ground and mature is always awe-inspiring.
The seasonal change is not just a feast for the eyes. There are treats for the other four senses, too. Seasonal sounds also change dramatically. Red winged blackbirds arrived early this year and in melodious droves. House finches and cardinal songs start just before dawn. The owls are quiet because they are most likely feeding their young. The wind rustling through trees with small leaves sounds so much nicer than icy branches clattering together in a gale force howling blast from the northwest.
Taste gets a smaller workout than the other senses. It is warm enough to barbecue outside without worrying about igniting several layers of clothing or dropping food because one cannot feel the tools in a gloved hand. Gas grills are very hard to light at temperatures under -20°F. It is true that catching snowflakes on one’s tongue is a treat, but only until frostbite sets in, which is usually about 90 seconds or six snowflakes. Taste’s season is summer, when fresh home-grown vegetables, fruits and berries are abundant. Frozen raspberries from last summer still taste sweet, even if they turn to mush when thawed.
Touch is the least affected sense, but it has a very special treat: the weather is no longer numbing cold. The sunshine is warm rather than biting. Green grass feels better on bare feet than jagged chucks of ice. Everything feels softer when it is not frozen solid.
One cannot understate how important smell is during springtime. There are few smells available during the winter because the nose freezes rather quickly. Once the snow melts and the sun warms the soil sufficiently, the fun begins. Daffodils are an early spring arrival and have a nice fresh smell. Crocuses have a very faint and delicate smell. Magnolias, rhododendrons, lilacs, and azaleas release delicate perfumes in the warmer air. A few weeks later, fruit trees bloom and their fragrance attracts pollinators and the occasional human admiring the scent.
Along with the sensory treats, there are a few, um, “gotchas” which become prevalent with the warmer weather. For example, I picked my buddy up from the airport last Friday. It was a very warm day, so I had the air conditioner running in the car. Once we got back to the drop off point, I shut off the air conditioner and rolled down the window. The pungent odor of recently thawed and now decomposing dog excrement stunned both of us. Of course, both of us remember the Cheech and Chong “Cheborneck” routine off the “Los Cochinos” album, so I said “Good thing we no step in it!”. At the end of “Cheborneck”, the dialog is “Let’s go eat!” and “Yeah, eat!” We had a good laugh because of it before grabbing the burger, fries and chocolate milk shake topped with whipped cream special at the Uptown Diner. Taste did get a little workout that evening.
Enjoy these seasonal treats with a loved one, especially a treat of touch. Hugging your special someone is easier without seven extra layers of clothing, holding hands is easier without mittens or gloves, and one does not have to scream sweet nothings past ear muffs. Touch seems to get shortchanged in the treat department, so do your part to correct that oversight.