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Sally-Jane Heit: Berkshire spring and wishful thinking

Naumkeag Daffodil Festival Preview (copy)

Spring flowers bloom in late April 2021 at Naumkeag in Stockbridge.

We who live in the Berkshires live in the hope that every spring will begin on the calendar day of March 20. From then until sometime in June, it is a constant disappointment akin to finding out that there is no Santa.

Every year along with snow or ice or unseasonable temperatures, spring arrives. During the months of March, April and most of May, an occasional balmy day arrives and you can hear the Berkshire sigh of “at last.”

However, at last does not last. For as long as I have been living here, this scenario hasn’t changed. I do my best every time a friend or acquaintance complains about the lack of spring weather to repeat what I know to be the truth.

Spring doesn’t come to the Berkshires until a few days before summer. I feel like Cassandra, the former Trojan priestess of Apollo of Greek mythology, cursed to tell the truth and never to be believed.

Harsh lessons of New England weather

I marvel at the loss of the Berkshirite’s memory and at the same time I understand it. In my psychobabble analysis, winter in the Berkshires has its own special magic, up to a point. After that point, we want it to be over. I love a climate of seasonal changes and I find the transition from Summer to Fall easy because I welcome the movement of hot, humid days to cooler, dryer ones. The colors of the leaves as they change from green to the rainbow hues of autumn is inspiring.

The holiday season eases autumn into winter — festivities and good cheer for all. And then comes January, with ice and sleet or snow and temperatures that dip to single digits and minuses. Then more of the same for February. For me, all the other seasons blend from one to the other in a timely fashion. Not winter. Winter hangs on like Carrie in the Stephen King movie; as soon as you think she’s gone, she gives us another minus-degree day or snow storm in May. “She’s baaaack.” She just won’t behave like any of the other seasons.

Spring’s ‘sighting of land’

There is something mystical and mysterious about the journey from winter to spring. It has to do with my theory of the sighting of land.

Sighting of Land Theory: There have been times in life when I have found myself confused and lost amidst situations, decisions, choices, peoples of all stripes and colors. It’s as if I am lost at sea. Suddenly there appears a speck on the horizon. My brain receives it as a signal of hope. I think, “Not to worry, SJ. There is a sign of land ahead. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

Well, I think winter to spring has its own signs of land. The groundhog starts the ball rolling followed by the budding and blossoming of trees and grass in that glorious iridescent green that almost hurts the eyes, dandelions, daffodils all signal the spring awakening.

As I write, outside my window, two beautiful robins have built their nest into the eaves of my porch. Piece by piece of dry grass and sticks, I watch as they build their palace. Now Ms. Robin sits on her eggs. Mr. Robin keeps watch on the roof over the nest. We all wait for the ultimate message of the arrival of spring: new life.

It’s almost the middle of May. Once again, I put on my winter jacket and hat to go out. I think, “the calendar is just another human invention. There exists a more accurate device signaling spring arrival — Mother Nature.”

We just celebrated Mother’s Day. I hope you didn’t omit a thank you and acknowledgement of our debt to this powerful, wily woman and Mother to us all.

Like errant children, we can’t compensate our Mother for the damage we have already caused, but we can try to make amends by being aware of all she provides for a life of ongoing riches. And when she kicks up a fuss with a hurricane, tornado, flood, fire, drought, remember we assisted in their creation.

I am reminded of an advertisement many years ago about how you can’t tell a particular brand of margarine from real butter: “You can’t fool Mother Nature.”

Right? Of course, right.

Sally-Jane Heit is an actor, writer and longtime resident of Berkshire County with a mind of her own. If you don’t believe it, check out her Blah, Blah, Blog at sallyjaneheit.wordpress.com.

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