Writing

But Spring Doesn't Bounce

The icy blasts have lessened, and the ground is soft underfoot, saturated with melted snow. The first flowers have just begun to bloom, and the very air is laden with the feel of renewal and rebirth. We have a name for this: springtime, but what, exactly, is spring?

The dictionary describes spring as either a.) That season of the year in which plants begin to grow after lying dormant all winter. In the North Temperate Zone, generally regarded as including the months of March, April, and May. In the astronomical year, that period between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice. Or b.) Any period of beginning or newness. However, if you look up this word, be prepared to wade through a six inch long column of descriptions of various iron spirals used in beds and actions involving jumping.

In the above definition, one word plainly stands out, though: vernal. What does it mean and what place does it have in a description of spring?

Vernal, from the Latin Vernalis > vernus > ver, literally means "springtime." It is a much more direct term, and more clearly defines the season to which we refer. However, it would be clumsy to say, for instance, "Vernal is in the air." There is no poetry in it; it sounds guttural and, well, technical. But even that aside, it would be slightly disconcerting to see a sign on a flower shop window announcing, "New flowers for Vernal." The only image that conjures up is one of a grinning Jim Varney peering into a window and shouting, "Hey, Vern!"

Therefore, when we speak of this season of rebirth and renewed warmer temperatures, "vernal" shall not replace "spring" in our vernacular, regardless of appropriateness of definition.