In my early twenties, I went to school for a couple of years in the Boston area. It was for many reasons a wonderful and eye-opening experience for someone like me, a Californian born and bred. Now, though, four decades later, what remains most strongly in my mind from that time was the weather, and more particularly, the seasons.
In much of California, the seasons blend into one another without much differentiation. Winter is a little colder than autumn, and both are wetter than summer, but if you want to wear shorts throughout the year, you pretty much can. In Boston, wearing shorts during winter will get you jeers and pneumonia. And while snow falling over an old historical city, with its stolid brick buildings and towering, ancient trees, can be quite beautiful, when the storm ends, whatever was white turns quickly gray with mud and soot and exhaust fumes. The world becomes dirty, icy; sodden. Winter in Boston is something one bundles up for and endures.
But winterís miseries help accentuate the impact of spring when it comes. What I remember was its immediacy, as if someone had flicked a switch. Suddenly, seemingly overnight, the air turned warm, humid, and carried with it the scent of life. Trees seemed to strain with the urge to bud, green was everywhere, and one had the literally visceral feeling, a glorious feeling, that the world had fundamentally changed.
There are places in California where one can experience this feeling, albeit somewhat muted, such as in the Sierra and Cascades and other mountain ranges that collect snow. Although spring nights in high-elevation towns such as Truckee remain cold, their mornings are filled with the voices of birds establishing territories and mates, and new growth, while perhaps slower than in the Northeast, proceeds with similar vigor.
Although these changes are particularly noticeable when one lives among them, perceptive anglers are clued in, as well, because this is when our streams and lakes are warming and fish and insects become active, and maybe not coincidentally, the trout season opens. Thereís a meadow not far from my home that soon will be carpeted with many vivid hues of green. Willows there overhang a favorite trout pool, and if Iím cautious, I might see the rings of a rise or two as early season mayflies ride the current before taking flight.
If Iím skillful, I might even hook a fish, and winter will be over.
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