The First Springlike Day

There is no better weather day than the first springlike day of the year. To my mind, four things have to come together:

  1. The sky must be clear and sunny.
  2. The sun must feel warm on your skin.
  3. The fragrance of blossoming trees and flowers must hang in the air.
  4. A certain quality of light paints the landscape. I think it is due to the angle of the sun.

When the first springlike day of the year occurs varies, I always know it because those four things come together. In the winter, the sky can be clear and sunny, but the sun gives off no warmth. Perhaps there is the odd warm day, as we had last week, when I found myself walking in mild, 65 F sunshine. The sun felt warm on my skin, the sky was clear and sunny. But the lighting wasn’t quite right, and there was no springlike fragrance in the air.

I lived in Los Angeles for nearly 20 years without experiencing that first springlike day of the year. In the 15 years since I’ve moved back to the east, I look forward to it with each passing winter day. If you’ve never experienced it, I can’t begin to describe the pleasant feeling that first springlike day fills me with. It would be like trying to describe the taste of chocolate to someone who has never tried it.

I tell people that I prefer the northeast because I like four seasons. The truth is I like four seasons primary because winter allows me to appreciate and enjoy that first springlike day. Winter is the coenzyme of spring, to use a biochemical analogy. Without winter, spring is just another set of days.

Taking my walk in warm weather earlier this week nearly fooled me into thinking that the first springlike day had come unusually early this year. The sun felt so good as I beat my path around the block. The sky was clear and blue, with hints of cumulus clouds on the horizon. But the trees were bare, and the smell of newness was missing. The sun wasn’t quite high enough in the sky either.

I generally don’t get to experience the first springlike day of the year more than once a year, but I may come close this year. The weather grew cold after that mild day, and cold rain and snow were forecast. The return to winter was quick. And so, sometime in March, when all the stars align, and the weather turns warm, and the skies are clear, and trees and flowers are blooming, and the sun reaches higher into the sky, I’ll get to experience the real first springlike day of the year.

And then, like a birthday, it will be behind me, and I’ll start to look forward to the next one, a distant year away.