Spring in Toronto has always been challenging for me.
My birthday falls just on the better side of the vernal equinox, so I've always had an event to help me gauge the progress of spring. Even in my childhood years in the North of Scotland, by the time my birthday arrived in late March, aconites and snowdrops had already grasped at their chance to flower in late January and early February, and crocuses had their petals splayed wide open to bask in the chilly early spring sun. Daffodil buds would be showing a tantalizing yellow streak, promising to burst open with reckless abandon to reflect and intensify the pale yellow of the weak sunshine, urging on longer days, and the promise of the warm, lilac-heavy breezes of June. Dismal grey slates that had reflected leaden skies for months would be taking on an almost iridescent sheen, as snow and sleet softened into refreshing and revitalizing showers, interspersing skies of fleeting clouds and elusive rainbows. In the hedges, birds would be busily building nests, and chicks would be rising out of perfect, tiny blue eggs, triggering a flurry of consternation and frenzied gathering of worms, and a watching out for magpies and a harrying of skulking cats. A time of promise and fragile dreams of a gentler season to come.
In Toronto, however, spring can be less of a season, and more of an isolated incident. No long, lingering, slipping and evolving from one season to another. No, a Toronto spring can pounce on you quite unawares, rather as though some preternatural hand had flicked the switch, bringing a giant furnace room into action for the season. What was the biggest snow pile you can ever remember just yesterday, can quite literally evaporate overnight, more likely revealing a scene littered with the refuse of other human lives, than the cheery optimism of a carpet of spring flowers. When the soil finally relaxes from it's frigid rigidity, crocuses, daffodils and tulips flower nearly simultaneously, fervently trying to get the breeding season over and done with, before excessive blasts of heat and humidity frizzle their delicate petals, and ballooning neighbours, like peonies and hostas, jostle and crowd them into obscurity.
And yet....sigh! Gentle reader, there is nothing quite as satisfying and life affirming in the world, as knowing you've made it through yet another freezing rain, slush and snow-clad winter, to set aside snow boots, and ice scrapers, shovels and scarves, and emerge out into the sunshine, and see the garden grabbing at life with both hands, and shouting "hurrah"!