When Oats and I told our parents that the wedding would be in March, they all expressed reservations. “March?” they said. “March?!!”
Because that’s what happens after a lifetime in southern Ontario: You hear the word March and you immediately think of wind, slush, mud, and wet flurries of snow that are rarely as picturesque as those that flew back in January. Growing up in my middle class family, March also meant cheap motels in Florida, where my sister and I would play on the beach with the children of all the other Canadian teachers who’d taken advantage of spring break deals, as our parents had. Even then, the misery of March intruded, in the form of ice-induced traffic accidents on the road to the airport and delayed flights.
In very sharp contrast, March out here on the west coast is, in short, glorious Spring (with a capital “S”). It seems to happen suddenly: One minute it’s dark and all my jackets feel permanently damp and every bit of green has dissolved into a slurry of muddy puddles, and then WHAM! It’s sunny for days on end and flowers are exploding from branches and lawns and even the cracks in the sidewalk.
“Are you sure you don’t want to wait until June?” My mother asked us.
June can be so unpredictable. Last year it was wet and cold. Besides which, there’s always a bit of an ocean wind around here, and it’s never as warm as most folks from out east would expect. My parents complain about wearing sweaters when they visit in the summer months. Better to have them pleasantly surprised by the joy of March, than shivering in June!
“March,” Oats and I repeated firmly. Weather aside, we were also particularly keen on equinox nuptials, symbolic of our love’s constant renewal and the cyclical growth we hope to share together. Yes, I may still be a harsh Torontonian, but a decade on this western island has really brought out my inner pagan.
At the wedding, we had only four flower arrangements throughout the venue, but they were massive things crafted by a skilled acquaintance. She used blossoming branches and evergreen salal gathered for us by two generous friends, who risked their safety not only in the nearby forests but also the busy urban avenues where cherry trees bloom in this city.
I’m still waiting on photos, so please bear with me.
In the meantime, I want to share with you two anthems of springtime. The first, for which I sadly cannot find a video, is This Spring by Veda Hille. The song draws liberally from the 1950s jazz standard Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most, but improves on this rather morose tune to create an original piece with some of my favorite lyrics:
This spring is the one
That other springs were trying for
Other seasons aim to be
The perfect light on perfect trees
The birds are brighter
The blossoms have achieved their peak
Explosions in electric leaves
The air attacks my lungs
The warm pale yellow sun
It knocks me down
It slays me
So many perfect lively things
My experience of springtime, all the way.
The second anthem is a romantic one, courtesy of my gravel-voiced friend, Tom Waits. Luckily there’s a video for this, so I can simply show you:
Yes: Spring, a perfect time to close my eyes, and open my heart.