"It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!" Mark Twain
"Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day." W. Earl Hall
Living in California for the past few years, I had forgotten the utter surge of joy and wonder that accompanies that first true day of spring.
In two-season California, except for at the higher elevations, winter never really arrives and most of us live in a perpetual, extended spring and summer; the seasons exist, but winter is pretty lazy in the sunshine state and summer never fully retreats. I love the California climate, but coming from New England I had a hard time calling a season winter when I could wear shorts and sandals.
Winter is not shy in Montana and Wyoming. This past week I had a bleak moment of despair. I had hopefully donned a pair of shorts for a run one afternoon when the thermometer reached 42F. On the last mile of my run snowflakes fell on my bare legs.
I began to think spring had deserted us here up north, perhaps a result of climate change. I began to feel regretful about every light I hadn’t turned off when I left a room or every time I forgot a reusable shopping bag when I ran errands. Surely this was a punishment for my occasional environmental lapses.
Today, spring arrived, a poem of blue skies, warm sunshine, fluttering butterflies, and blossoming flowers. The temperature rose to 58F and even the southwestern wind blew warmly.
I hiked up the ridge (in shorts and a short sleeve shirt!) over Rescue Creek, stopping to examine the tiny white phlox flowers and the slender green leaves of the budding bitterroot. I also discovered wolf tracks, and while examining the canine footprints I watched an orange butterfly erratically flutter nearby. Bluebirds also flew overhead, landing frequently on the ground in search of a snack.
The resident ungulates also had spring fever. A herd of pronghorn antelope approached me on the trail, playfully trotting within twenty feet of me. They seemed to relish the sunshine as much as I did. Elk, bison, pronghorn and mule deer frolicked together in my front yard in a scene reminiscent of the peaceable kingdom.