So, someone told me it’s spring and I’m trying to be as optimistic as those songs about spring and romance and hope that seem to be in the air this time of year. Songs like “June is Busting Out All Over,” make you think of flowers budding and leaves whispering. You know, happy because the dark days of winter are over.

My favorite spring song is one entitled “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.” Just the title alone tells you this song ain’t your mother’s sing-along.

It was written by Jay Landesman and Tommy Wolfe in the late 1950s, part of an off-Broadway show entitled “The Nervous Set.” Because of some kind of disagreement, the song did not go to New York City with the play, but made the rounds and it became the kind of song popular with jazz singers and instrumentalists.

Another song from that same show is “The Ballad of the Sad Young Men,” with lyrics like this:

“Boys break like promises, but only behind closed doors.”

Pass the tissues, please.

Songs about spring are just another reminder that spring is a season that will probably fail your expectations. Especially here in Maine and the rest of New England.

At this time of year, those of us “from away” feel compelled to remind ourselves why we chose to settle down in New England. A large part of the answer is diversity. Four distinct seasons. Each season has distinctive sports to play, activities to do, and clothes to wear. Out comes the light jacket, into the clothes chest goes the winter parka, only to be retrieved for the surprise Mother’s Day snowstorm.

Think about it: in summer it’s warm enough to be outside wearing shorts and a T-shirt; in winter the best way to keep warm is to drape a couple of live raccoons around your shoulders.

Native New Englanders take for granted that come winter there’ll be snow and ice, for skiing and ice fishing. Farther south, in the mid-Atlantic states, winter is a boring sepia reality in which if there is snow and ice it doesn’t last long. In my home state of Missouri, ice fishing is when you visit a walk-in freezer and pick out the sole filet that’s been sitting there since the Reagan Administration.

There is some confusion about the actual dates when each season begins and ends. When the weather bureau reports that the spring we’ve just endured averages below normal, which it will any day now, their calculations define the spring as the three calendar months from March 1 to May 31. A colder than normal winter? That season runs from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28. So astronomically, spring begins with the equinox on or around March 21 and ends June 21 with the summer solstice.

Those terms explain the maneuvers of the sun, moon and planets, which give us the seasons. The weather bureau needs more exact figures so it goes with three months exactly as determined by the calendar. So, take your pick; it won’t explain the tendency of this particular season, meteorological or astronomical, to dash one’s hopes. As T.S. Eliot wrote, April is the cruelest month.

It was May 1 and he was looking for his winter parka.

Bob Kalish observes life from a placid place on the island of Arrowsic (motto: You’re not in Georgetown yet). You can reach him at [email protected].


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