Looking for Spring

Travel in March can be a parade through the seasons if you go in the right direction, and you are lucky. Departing New Jersey was done in winter and now that I’m heading toward Alabama, Spring is starting to creep around the corner. Back in 2014, when Louise and I headed west for our most excellent adventure, it was May, and Spring had been late in showing up. I promised her that I would show her Spring and find her fields of Spring flowers, just like the ones we had seen in the past. 2014 was a tough year all over. I never did find Spring for her, no matter the altitude, latitude or longitude. We were either in pre-Spring or full blown Summer. When Spring shows up late, and God arranges for only four or five hot days in a row, Spring disappears and Summer is on stage.

It was only 51 degrees, but there were the unmistakable signs of Spring in southwestern Virginia/eastern Tennessee. Lots of decorative pear trees have become naturalized and their white blooms were everywhere. The DOT’s from both states must have had a couple of pennies left one year and planted patches of daffodils on the side of the road here and there. It was always a pleasure to see a swath of yellow appear. Sure sign of springs is the increase of character’s on the road. I passed a forty year old RV tooling down the road. There was a big, faded sign painted on the rear and side of the RV proclaiming “Crazy Train”. It was driven my a smaller, very German looking man, eyes affixed straight down the road, with a little grey brush mustache. He looked either like an Ooompa Band conductor, or a professor. Whichever, he was on that ‘Crazy Train’.

Tennessee has done some work on sculpting what they think the world should look like. The Interstate is more Parkway than artery of commerce, and that’s fine with me. There are little sculpted areas into the surrounding woods to make the scenery look far less linear. Traveling early in the morning, I saw something I’ve never seen before. Tucked into the openings between the trees and creeping occasionally across the road were little pockets of fog. You could see them in their entirety. Some were as small as 3’ x 9’ x 15’ tall. They moved and danced and didn’t seem to disappear as traffic passed and the sun shone. I’ve never seen a Will O’ the Wisp, but they sure brought that image to mind.

The further south and west I traveled, the more Spring had a toehold. Cypress trees were sprouting their leaves and painted the otherwise grey landscape that only found in Spring light green. Some pears had completed the flower bloom and were in leaf. Whole varieties of Oaks were done with winter and had all color of green leaves. The redbuds were in bloom, looking like large red flowers stuck randomly in the arrangement of trees at the roadside. Morning Glories climbed and bloomed in the trees that hadn’t gotten the message. Eventually, I got further south and say my first live oak, with it’s resurrection ferns and Spanish Moss, a sign that I’m truly in the south.

When you look at more than the dotted white line, and the other lane markings while traveling, you can see amazing things. Vultures cleaning up at the side of the road, Hawks looking for, or finding their next meal, amazing things or just plain junk that fell or was thrown off someone’s conveyance.  Eventually, I had seen plenty of Spring, so I was looking for alligators the further south I went. None. They must be smarter than I thought. It wasn’t warm enough for me to be laying around naked in the sun, them too, I suppose. I did see my first suspension bridge built to support a pipeline across a river. I wish I knew the river and the location, but I don’t. It was impressive.

Well, Spring was found this trip, and I’m looking forward to seeing her again as I creep North after spending my time in Houston. Spring; pretty, short and elusive, but worth the hunt.