Virginia has endured some incredible, bizarre, and unpredictable weather over the last couple of months. I have dubbed it The Year of the Sprintummer. Just as the last of the cold, wet stuff had seeped into the cool earth and the trees had begun to unfurl the first timid buds, the clouds discovered that they had previously unnoticed reservoirs of ice and snow yet to dump on us; the winds, which were becoming almost zephyrous devolved once again into arctic blasts; and the wretched flora (as well as a few unfortunate Virginians like myself) became crystallized in the onslaught.
Long-suffering, we walk shivering in snow or sleet or freezing winds and think that we cannot even remember what this magical thing called warm feels like. And then, somewhere between a chilly sunset and a gentle sunrise, the weather has changed. Suddenly, it is warm. No, it is hot and we are buying ice creams and frolicking in meadows wearing sandals and listening to birds singing and frogs chirring and flowers blossoming. Yes, you can practically hear the flowers shaking off the cold and spreading their petals once more.
And then you hear them start to wilt as the blazing heat threatens to finish what last week’s chill began. Flowers can never catch a break.
Sprintummer: when summer and winter engage in a war for supremacy in the middle of spring.
And all we wanted was to be able to go outside without mittens.
I think the most frustrating thing about this confusing season is that we are missing the magic of spring. There is something supremely and subtly dramatic in the casting off of winter and the coming of the new season. It isn’t supposed to happen all at once and skip straight to summer. Winter is not supposed to regain its hold all of a sudden. The perfect spring is a slow progression of cold to cool to mild to warm. It is a beautiful shift from whites and grays to greens and violets and yellows and pinks.
What we really want is to see the world resurrect in slow motion, a little bit more every time we wake up, until it has become truly alive again. The profound change from death to life has been translated into many myths. Unfortunate Persephone’s forced marriage with Hades sends her down into “death” and back into “life” in an eternal cycle that manifests in the changing of the seasons.
But the more appropriate story, of course, is the coming of Aslan:
Wrong will be right, when Aslan shows his might,
At the sounds of his roar, sorrows will be no more
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again. (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe)
I suppose in Narnia, after that hundred year winter, they deserved the speedily delivered spring. But it was spring, not summer, not Sprintummer. It was spring. We look at the world being renewed and we see life after death: the bare bones of “dead” trees become verdant and green and the hard, brown earth erupts with colors. If you live somewhere with four seasons, perhaps you share this sense that spring is special. It promises relief, beauty, and pleasure.
It also represents the end of a very great and dreadful Winter two thousand years ago; and it promises us a final, glorious spring when the Lion will move with infinite power and shake His mane once more on the winter of this world.
So, in conclusion, there is something seriously wrong with this whole Sprintummer thing. Aslan would not approve.