Another spring is upon us with all its glorious manifestations. In my reckoning, it is the human brain that first detects subtle changes in the air, heralding the departure of winter and releasing hormones that trigger a ‘good’ feeling. As the sap begins to flow in members of the flora family, it triggers the emergence of fresh leaf buds, while their fruit bearing kin cover themselves with masses of blossoms in all shades of pink and white. Grass shriveled and yellowed by winter frosts turns green, as do shrubs and bushes, while yellow dandelions thrust their fragile stalks to add swathes of color to the green carpet.

My feathered friends, who have spent long winter nights with fluffed plumage to reduce the effects of freezing winds, now appear blest with new vigor. This is the time to mate, lay eggs and raise another generation of chicks. A frenzy appears to take hold of both the visible and the invisible insect world. The ‘Buddleia’ in my garden becomes a showcase for a wonderful variety of butterflies, bees and moths. The season is also a windfall for the birds, who now have an unlimited supply of nectar and insects to feed themselves and their young.

Spring fever is also visible amongst animals that inhabit the hills around my home. The foxes are in the process of shedding their thick winter coat to reveal lean (almost emaciated) bodies, while my car headlights frequently pin wild hares in their glare, immobilizing them and forcing me to stop and shoo them into the undergrowth.

I often stand in my verandah, transfixed by the spectacle of a deep blue sky that creates an unbelievable backdrop to great thunder heads, rising white and grey from behind the hills, in an awesome display of nature’s magnificent power. As the sun sinks, I see a flash of lightning rip through these huge cloud towers, followed by the muted sound of rolling thunder that gives this phenomenon its name.

The pine trees in my compound are laden with cones, signaling that it is time that I proceed with something that I have wanted to do for a long time – harvest my own crop of pinon nuts and win a wager with my family members that the trees are indeed ‘chilghoza pine’. I also get the comfort that these cones will serve as excellent tinder for the log fires that warm my home during the cold season.

Amongst many things of spring that stir my soul, I look forward to the ‘school break’. This is a time for the entire clan to converge on my humble abode. This seven day reunion, charges all concerned for the remaining part of the year. Spring also force multiplies the impulse to be outdoors. This means picnics, hikes, weekend jaunts into the pines and cookouts. It is the last mentioned activity that is decidedly the most popular, since it has exposed a lot of hidden talent amongst young men of the family. While all these cooking adventures are memorable, some have left participants scarred for life - like the episode of the angry bull that charged us in the woods somewhere on the road to Patriata.

Spring however is not free from some inconveniences. Take for example a cousin, who claims that he suffers from ‘changing season allergy’, which in actual fact is caused by pollen. Nonetheless, this gentleman doses himself with anti-allergens and goes around wearing a mask and feeling unhappy. For the ladies of the family, it is time for some serious labor. Winter woolies need to be stored, while lighter garments are dug out from deep inside old wooden trunks. This is an exercise fraught with the sight of an irate ‘first lady’ discovering that her favorite piece of spring fashion has been misplaced or worse – devoured full of holes by those slinky pets known misleadingly as silver fish.

All things considered, this is a time of the year that pleases the senses. That is perhaps the reason that it is so often mentioned in both verse and song. As far as I am concerned, my tribute to ‘the Season to be Jolly’ is through the current piece.