Did you ever wonder what Canada did so wrong that we don’t get spring? Apart from some parts of BC, I mean.

In Ottawa, we sprint from bare branches to full leaf in about a week, as if dawdling were too painful, but my real complaint is more about consistency.

I’ve lived in three provinces — Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario — and there is a distinct paucity of spring in all of those. After February, winter decays directly into summer. Unattractively. It goes like this: cold, grey, summery heat, cold, autumnal rains, grey, summery heat, cold. And then it’s full-bore summer until the fall.

Where is the intervening stage between winter and summer of which the poets speak: the days of light jackets, blue skies, budding life, freshening rains, and fresher air? For, like, more than one day in a row.

No, spring on this side of the Rockies is what you’d expect if you put the other three seasons in a paper bag and shook like hell. But it is what it is. And although it isn’t spring, that’s what we call it.

This week the cognitive dissonance of pan-seasonal images inspired another haiku.


Grey imbues the air;
cold rain slicks down branch and twig.
Shoots embrace the drips.

3-photo collage of so-called spring images

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12 Responses to Spring-Challenged

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Lovely haiku, Isabel.

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    As one of those blessed to live in a climate where we get four to six weeks of slowly unfolding spring — slightly downhill from an orchard that cycles through apricot, peach, cherry, and apple blossoms — I have only this to say to the less fortunate who dwell in other parts of Canada: Pppppbbbbbbffffffttttttt!!!!!!!!

    Jim T

  3. “The poets” refers to the hegemony of English and other European writers in the literature that people of our age were raised on, such as Browning’s “Oh, to be in England now that April’s there …”. Spring here also entails hapless starlings that fall into our unused chimney and that sometimes can be rescued with a great mess of soot showering into my office. Spring opens pathways to our land for cats with unwanted pregnancies. Their spayed sisters are chased up towering trees by the marauding tomcat leaving their rescue to the chances of nature. The “shoots” are cowering in the earth that will freeze again this week with an unwelcoming night-time low of minus eight degrees Celsius. We rejoice too soon that the snow is gone as plowed patches cling tenaciously to northern slopes and patches of ice lurk beneath dun grasses. Did I fail to mention the towing charge when our van got stuck in mud at the mouth of our son’s driveway? I am looking hopefully to that week a month from now when spring weather descends like a hurricane.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – LOL. I wonder if school would have been more interesting/educational/fun if teachers had juxtaposed the cultural hegemonist view of spring (anything, maybe) with what we were experiencing. Maybe some kids thought about it: I would have needed a push. I just accepted their view as the standard.

  4. Spring is here (sunny today, a blizzard tomorrow) – just not the one English poets experienced. And they lied. In Britain, winter is wet and chilly, spring is wet and chilly, summer is wet and chilly with a few surprisingly warm and sunny days, fall is wet and chilly. I have been there in all seasons, including one whole year. BC is probably a better bet.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – Dagnab it, you can’t trust anyone. I’ll take BC’s spring, but Ontario’s autumn.

  5. Eric J Hrycyk says:

    It seems the commonality to the three provinces and the lack of Spring is YOU !

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Eric – Oh, no! On the other hand, maybe I can get people to pay me to stay away. A spring-protection racket.

  6. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – so far you have fortunately never lived through a NS spring. Spring in the Annapolis Valley begins at the beginning of March when the snow begins to melt and skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling become difficult and lasts through April showers/downpours/snow flurries and well into May (black fly season).
    There is a reason why BC is often referred to as Lotus Land.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – Sigh. Yes, it is what it is. I didn’t like to mention the black flies that make life miserable around Ontario’s Canadian Shield lakes in May. Maybe there was more than one reason the First Nations were nomadic.

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