Spring is in the air around here. Okay, okay, I must admit, spring in South Florida is just a lump of hot days where I wait, dreading the humidity’s impending return. I guess what I should’ve said was, spring is on my mind. Yes, that feels a bit more accurate.
This is my eighth spring in South Florida. I thought the first few were pretty spectacular, what with not having to wait for the snow to melt and all. In fact, I decided to move to Florida as an undergrad at SUNY Oswego when I roused one late-April morning, and looked out my window only to see two inches of snow had settled on my car while I was asleep. I decided to blow off my classes and go back to bed; there was no way I was pulling a snow brush out that late in the year. I’d spent two-and-a-half decades in Upstate New York- enough was enough.
[Next stop, South Florida]
warm hot weather turned out to be a novelty that I quickly grew bored with. My year used to be marked by four seasons. Sure, some unpleasant weather popped up from time to time, but these seasons worked in harmony with one another and gave my life a sense of time and balance. In the absence of traditional seasons, I feel disconnected; I’m living in a vacuum.
This year Miss P is with us, and I’m realizing that if we stay in South Florida, she’ll never know the crisp pungent air and blazing leaves of fall – the season she came to us. She won’t wipe the fog of her warm breath away from the window as she peers out at snowflakes gathering on front lawns and mighty pines or feel a stir of anticipation as the inclement weather slowly gives way to the rebirth of spring. She won’t dance in the sunshine, inhaling the sweetness of lilacs and fresh cut grass as the first signs of summer reluctantly creep up, or run barefoot though the velvety lawn collecting crab apples and lady bugs.
In South Florida, I’m forced to experience the beloved seasons I speak of mentally rather than physically. I keep scented candles and trinkets representing each one stuffed in a bureau drawer – a sandwich bag full of colorful fabric leaves, a snow globe that lights up and sends glitter swirling onto the encased landscape, a pine cone I picked up off a dirt path in Vermont – and I draw upon these collections throughout the year as a means of triggering my mind to take me back. Still, there is a hollowness and palpable longing.
These treasures will never evoke the seasons for Miss P; not as I know them. They won’t coax vivid images onto the back of her eyelids or fill her nostrils with scents that aren’t really there, yet are so powerful, at times, they seem to take over the room. They won’t leave her reeling with a visceral longing to hop in the car and head north until she’s home, because she is home, and here she will know her own seasons. Non-seasons. Seasons that fall out of balance with my own.
These are some of the things I’ve spent the last few months pondering, but life doesn’t slow down while I dwell on its implications, so I must continue to move forward. We’re already busy around here creating our own spring traditions- hybrids of the way spring is meant to be experienced and how it presents itself in the subtropics.
I’ve been making floral crowns for Miss P and taking her for leisurely strolls around our neighborhood. We recently learned the Poppins Hip Carry in our new woven wrap, and it’s become one of our favorite carries for walks because it allows Miss P greater freedom to look around at the world while still providing an opportunity for her to turn into me and nap when she’s had enough.
These days we’ve been enjoying every moment of fresh air we can, because soon it will be so hot outside that the candle residing on a tabletop on our patio will turn to a pool of wax in the blistering afternoon sun.
Most would call this sudden urge to be outside, this urge to commune with nature – to honor it with time and flowers and feelings of gratitude – spring fever. For me, “spring fever” has become a seasonal symptom of another psychological malady called homesickness.
For Miss P – this world where lilacs don’t bloom, and Robins don’t lay their speckled eggs the color of the June sky, this world where leaves don’t turn luminous with hues of gold and red and burnt orange in fall, and snowflakes don’t blanket the forest in February, this world of year round mosquitoes and greenery, this world where the air has only two settings: hot and hot and humid – this world of suspension is home.
I can’t wait to take her home with me.
I’ll leave you with a handful of photos from our spring shoot.
And what spring photo would be complete without a Beatrix Potter book? My sister and I adored Potter’s books – and the furry creatures that run wild throughout them – when we were kids.
Miss P looking like a magical fairy in the frilly dress her Grandmom sent: