The Taste of Spring

April 22, 2016 § Leave a comment

Spring has arrived in NEPA.  I can tell because at the hockey games, the sunset light is still glowing through the arena doors midway through the first period.  Playoff hockey is here too, with its inevitable tastes of hunger (I can’t eat because I’m too nervous because we’re about to hit double overtime in a Game 7), and sweet, cold ice cream (the only time of year I’m warm enough to eat ice cream at the hockey games is during playoffs), and soft pretzels with mustard.  I wonder what playoff hockey tastes like to the guys on the ice.  Blood in the mouth, sweat on the upper lip, fresh adrenaline maybe?  This is why I could never be a sports reporter, because those are the things I want to know.

LatteEver since Matt and I started dating, I find myself paying a lot more attention to the flavor of whatever coffee I happen to be drinking.  I’m getting coffee-spoiled by him and his personally roasted coffee beans.  For instance, I’ve never really noticed the taste of the foam on a cappuccino before.  Normally my coffees come in to-go cups with lids and tiny slit openings.  Most of the foam is lost, squished against the lid’s surface, a sad waste for an unappreciative plastic container.  But Matt makes me cappuccinos in warm ceramic mugs with the foam layered richly on top and I taste it in every sip.  It floats like meringue on my tongue, that complex and wonderful combination of airy thickness, a light weight, the flavor of contradictions.  The milk foam is bland by itself, but then he taps a dash of cinnamon across the top, a spice that has always tasted of childhood delight to me.  When I take a sip and it mixes with the rich darkness of the espresso hidden below, I can’t help but smile to myself, because it’s a grown-up drink now.

Chan and IChanning asked me to be one of her bridesmaids for her wedding next year.  She gave me and Jess and Missy cute little cards with a wonderfully adorable handwritten message inside for each of us.  Friendship tastes sweet in the soul: a warm and uplifting flavor of joy.  I couldn’t be more proud to be in her wedding, to help her and Mike make a commitment to each other in front of all of our friends and family.  If true friendship means looking out at the world ahead together and wanting only the good things for each other, then Chan and I have it nailed.  We hauled each other to our feet so many times after falling down and we kept on going.  (Literally.  This one time, at Franklin’s, we were singing along to the jukebox at the top of our lungs: Friends In Low Places by Garth Brooks, and when we tried to get “low” we fell down on top of each other.)

The poet T.S. Eliot famously wrote: “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land”, but I have never been able to reconcile that cold- albeit beautiful- imagery with spring here in the valley.  I once wrote a poem about October- how the autumn month reminds me of a graceful old woman.  And if so, then Spring in Pennsylvania is a beautiful girl.  She dances around the corners of April, a blithe maid wearing a new dress. She tastes of cold lemonade and fresh rain, a soft kiss in sun-dappled shade.  She is strong in a way most young girls are not: she brings with her only the necessary storms.  She weaves early flowers into her hair as a crown and counts “he loves me, not” on petals as they swirl through her fingers.  She is full of earnest hope and the ancient promise that joy will always enter in with the dawn.  Spring is a girl with knowledge of beginnings, of nurturing.  Her feet are planted firmly in the newly tilled earth and she has only begun to know the true strength of roots. The stars in her eyes are not blinding; they strike a spark of grace and wonder and an age-old longing for the truth of things. Above all, like all the beautiful girls throughout time, Spring yearns.


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