The Smell of Spring in the PNW

The calendar says spring began a week ago. I consider that a mere suggestion. After all, the calendar says that summer solstice is June 21, and anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest knows that summer doesn’t officially start until July 4. “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” and “April showers bring May flowers” are aphorisms for East Coast life. Out here, March comes in like a torrential downpour and goes out like a less torrential downpour. And April? That month lasts through June. But at least we don’t have to wait until May for our flowers.One of the many glories of living in this drizzly part of the world is the natural beauty everywhere you look. If you enjoy sinking your hands into the earth and conjuring up flowers, fruits, and vegetables the way I do, the appearance of daffodils, primrose, and hyacinth reminds you that you need to put in that seed order and start tilling soil ASAP.

But as vibrant and deep as all the colors are in spring, what sets spring apart from every other season in my opinion is the smell. I wish I could post the odors of my backyard for you. The sarcococca doesn’t look like much, but its fresh vanilla scent in January gently coaxes, “Don’t worry. Winter is almost over. Spring will be glorious.”

The daphne odora is slightly more daring with its demure pink flowers: “Tee hee hee, don’t look at me, but isn’t my fragrance lovely?” And the purple hyacinth trills its RRRs: “Arrrent’t I rrravishing darrrrlink?”

The calendar says spring began a week ago. I didn’t believe it until my garden told me so.