Just the other day I was thinking about how our arrangement of the calendar in these latitudes wastes about a quarter of the year's gift of sunlight. We obstinately start our summer seasons at Memorial Day and end them at Labour Day. This cuts a month off the long days of May, and ignores the last final fortnight of mild temperatures in September. We have few enough of either and should get the most from them.
After 40-odd years living on the New England coast, I haven't got used to the baleful influence of spring sea breezes. Fact is, it doesn't get reliably warm around here until the middle of June. Those of us subject to what we spent the morning calling thermal allodynia can resent this a bit. Growing up inland, I came to expect consistent warm temperatures to show up near the end of April. Today's midstate meeting was a reminder that they still do. I didn't get to spend a whole lot of time outdoors, but what I had was sweet.
Add to all this was the Facebook comment of a former colleague and fellow New Hampshire native about the smell of a New Hampshire spring. That brought back a range of recollected sensations. Smell leads the list, for those warm spring days bring out the life in scores of plants just waiting for the prompt. Spring brings out birdsong, and tempts boys to try the first swim of the year: once I remember trying that from a boat in the middle of a trout pond that still had ice at one end.
It's also the season when a real dirt road is at its peak of favourable sensations. As Newt Tolman wrote, we're not talking about gravel roads here. A true dirt road is a pair of bare ruts surrounded by grass and wildflowers. The dirt is alive; its smell is full of the promise of life. Walking barefoot on a dirt road in spring is a purely sensuous experience. The soil is midway between the yard-deep mud of early spring and the foot-deep dust of summer. Tolman described the texture as glassy. Looking back, I recall it as that of newly-thrown pottery: cool and yielding to pressure.
It's worth something to spend a few hours listening to lectures in clinical science to get this flood of recall. I hope there are still children in the country uplands who get to taste these things.