Sunday, March 18, 2012


We measure out our lives in innumerable ways. Landmarks are all around us, waiting to be used for the purpose of telling us we are a little bit older. We struggle through time, and frequently we must cling for rest to a Friday night, a Christmas Day, the first swallow of spring, the first and last leaves of autumn, the sun going down behind the hills or the houses across the street, an equinox, a solstice, another birthday, another beer.

Spring is short here. Winter turns into summer over the course of a couple of weeks. Around the beginning of March, each year, you suddenly notice that you aren’t wearing your coat, then a few days later you’ve put your sweaters away as well. Before long we will be looking for the shade when we go outdoors. There isn’t a real autumn either, but summer has a long, long tail which we call autumn until some time in November.

So there is no spring, and yet we clearly distinguish the start of spring. Several things happen at once, some public, some private. The weather changes, as I said, and with it comes a tangible sense of openness and cheerfulness. People immediately appear outside bars as though by magic, as if they had emerged from hibernation. The square is full at ‘cañas’ time, and the pavements are no longer for walking quickly along with your coat buttoned up but for standing on and talking to friends on at the window of your favourite bar.

The water birds reappear on the river and start to breed. I saw the first lamb a couple of weeks ago. Soon the days will become longer than the nights and the clocks will go forward, but, symbolic as these things are, they arrive rather late to mark spring here. We’re already there.

Today was the last day of the ski-jumping season, and the first of the Formula 1 season. Such things as these divide summer from winter for me. If you’re watching Daiki Ito it’s winter, if you’re watching Fernando Alonso it’s summer. One thing ends and another begins. So, adding all these things together, I decree that for me, spring has arrived, and that means summer is nearly here.

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