Earth Journal:

Spring Fever Is Just Another

Name for Spring Cleaning

by M.L. Faunce

In spring, there's an energy that just won't quit. What's infectious in nature spreads to humans with no harm done. Catching this fever just means getting caught up on some long overdue chores.

It's easy to get caught up in the activity in Bay country.

Tundra swans are heeding the call of nesting grounds up north. Many have already gone. Preparing for their flight, morning, noon and into sunset they are on training missions of military force, if not always precision. Each day they fly to higher altitudes, alter the size of their vee and scatter, only to converge again from all directions. Is organized disorganization their strategy, as it is ours sometimes?

How to get everyone in sync after a winter of taking it easy is an annual challenge. To this seasonal test, there are as many approaches as there are species.

For several years running, a pair of blue birds has shown up in my yard right around the time the swans depart. I'm not sure why these industrious little creatures were paired with the noun happiness. They may be cheerful, but the blue birds I've seen are far too serious to be particularly pleased. From the moment they hit the yard they are all action, all business. There's not a moment to lose, or so it seems. Decisions weigh heavy: choose the box near the willow and birch trees or the one near the rose bush but closer to the driveway. Or how about that other nice yard? All the while the male is coaxing the female - or is it the other way around?

If blue birds could frown, spring would be the time. So many choices, so little time. Sound familiar?

Nature's nest builders taunt us with their exuberance. Sweeping out the old, piling on the new. With all this high energy in the air, maybe it's time to get our own brood in gear. Most families in my neighborhood would rather keep their heads in the clouds, like the swans. But we are earthbound, and spring chores call. A vernal deadline is still a deadline.

Less sublime and at ground level, the garden needs clearing, the garage is brimful, and houses wait, inside and out, for a fresh coat of paint. Lawn equipment needs checking. Pruning time is here. It's not too early to plant a garden and look, someone's already cutting their grass!

How all this energy is contagious, just when we're feeling the first signs of spring fever, is a wonder. Maybe that's the joke played on us right around the first of April. We're down with a contagious fever, but no harm is done.

We can't quit now: how would it look to the blue birds of busyness in the backyard?

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VolumeVI Number 13
April 2-8, 1997
New Bay Times

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