I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Go to hell, Mr Wordworth. Your words are a cruel jest to an Englishman living in Canada.
Spring was always my favourite season in England. Especially in the south, spring began to appear from the end of February onwards, with the first crocuses and snowdrops pushing through the lightest dusting of snow, like icing sugar dusted on a Victoria Sponge. Into March, there was the ‘host of golden daffodils’ covering every flowerbed and embankment. Spring lambing too – a traditional Mothering Sunday outing (Mothering Sunday is tied to Lent in the UK).
How I miss an English Spring.
Here in Nova Scotia, spring means very different things, and it arrives much later. But it’s coming. Spring is in the air. I can almost feel it. Give it a few more weeks and I will definitely feel it. Damned blackflies.
Living in this part of Canada (or any part of Canada for that matter), Spring is not a calendar event driven by the vernal equinox. Spring is slow to return from its winter break. So we take any sign, anything. Just last Saturday, the day felt warm, the sun was shining, and people were without jackets.
It was 2 degrees Celsius.
Spring is a time when the days are not so bitterly cold. When you can walk out with your ski jacket unzipped, toque-less (look it up) and sans-mittens. Spring is a time when the permafrost of winter begins to give up its icy grip on the soil. Though, as the ground thaws top down, and there is an increased rainfall, the ‘yard’ will turn to mush. Mud is the Canadian crop of spring. Not crocuses, not daffodils. Mud. If we actually had lambs in this part of Canada they would be brown. We would need to rewrite our nursery rhymes:
Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was brown with mud
It tried to follow Mary home,
But it was stuck, right where it stood
Canadian roads suffer dreadfully in spring too. Our other notable crop is potholes. There have been some impressive examples already this winter, bringing with it the popular Canadian road-slalom. I have my suspicions that the highways department has a financial interest in the vehicle alignment business, given their tardy approach to plugging these pavement pustulations. Hit one at speed and many a time there’s a blowout, possibly even a vehicular pas de chat. If I recall, there was one particularly large pothole that reportedly contained a group of Chilean miners, trapped for several weeks.
Such is the impact of the spring thaw, and the easing of the permafrost, that roads will heave and decks subside. The instability of the subsoil makes this a bad time to build any permanent structure. Roads crack and crumble under excessive loads, and there are weight restrictions during the worst of the thawing period. So no heavy trucking, no gravel trucks, no foundations being poured or highways being laid. Woodlands turned to swamps by the slow thaw and run-offs meaning forestry operations are curtailed. There’s no snow to plough nor lawns to cut. So what’s a man to do when all outdoor pursuits and physical labours are temporarily suspended? This is the land where men are men and …. Well, Monty Python got it right, I think:
Well this is my point (yes, there was one).
We’re hearing about the demographic challenges, the loss of the baby Boomer generation and so forth. I think I’m onto something that can help us out. Something the Canadian government should grasp with both hands and squeeze the life out of to boost our flagging population.
The stars align in springtime. Look at the facts:
- There are men with nothing to do. Baseball hasn’t got going. Football is months away. Golf is still a daydream. Basketball doesn’t count. Men are laid off and lazing.
- Meanwhile, their ladyfolk are idle too. All their favourite TV series have reached their climactic cliffhangers, leaving a generation of fertile females clawing the sofa, desperate for emotional release.
- Outside, Ma Nature is doing her thing. Birds, bunnies, bugs and bees, all are procreating the life out of each other.
Everything takes on a whole new light in spring. Days are warmer, clothes are fewer. The flannel PJs are retired and replaced with the negligee or nothing-at-all. With no distractions for either party and the first sight of those flimsy frillies it’s time for the laid-off man and his emotionally frustrated lady to lay it on. Bump uglies. Make the beast with two backs. It’s time to grow the population along with our petunias.
It’s already happening – take a quick straw poll round your workplace/school/church group. Note how many people have winter birthdays? Now do the math. I’m actually one of those winter babies (but then, Pops has a birthday in April, so maybe I was just his birthday present).
All we need is a little government intervention – a black-out maybe, or a tax incentive – and it will be more than the sap that’s a-rising this Spring.