a world instantly in bloom. For all of winter the fruit trees feign death, shed their million perfect green photoreceptors to wait until they're practical again. In late March, when that practicality finally arrives, it is ignored. Instead, with their last burst of energy, some precious measure of thermodynamic stability guarded quietly through the cold, they bloom into an explosion of color and intensity. In the early morning they're already fighting selflessly for cross-pollinators not yet in motion, each tree awash in a thousand impressionist shades from the still-cold sun.

the first perfect day. Maybe it is surrounded with a week of rainstorms, preceded by a freak snowfall, or succeeded by stifling heat. Perhaps it is even the only day without one of the above conditions. Regardless, you are aware of its arrival when it happens, the moment you step outside at eleven AM and feel the sun's pleasant warmth on your skin and a sweetly scented zephyr tickling every hair and follicle.

sunlight. On the very brightest day of winter the sun is tiny and pale white up in the sky. When spring comes, as the Northern hemisphere precesses back closer to the light, the sun gets larger and brighter, warmer in color and heat. Even before the plantlife restarts its cycle, that new light has given all the winter world so much more color.

newly mown grass. Every year the bizarre suburban tradition starts a little bit earlier; eventually they'll just take a break from mowing in January, since all that ice would ruin the lawnmower blades anyway. Even though it is a silly and wasteful activity -- perhaps holding the title for most supremely worthless but universally popular way to spend two hours in history -- it does offer a single benefit: the perfume of cut grass. It's a sweet, complex, fertile scent, with sticky molasses low notes and almost citrus-like piercing highs, redolent of memories. Entirely undiscovered before the last two centuries of mowing, now the scent is inescapable, freshly mown blades in front of every office building, on every campus, over every playground.

ice cold beer. Near the end of the season, there's a period when temperatures climb off-and-on into the upper double digits they will occupy for the summer, a short time when that heat is still invigorating and not yet oppressive. It is a time made for good beer. There are such choices to make: a frosty lager, glass dripping with condensation; a light ale, firmly spiced but still cooling to drink; a hardy stout, its richness satisfying and gratifying after a hard day's work.

birdsong. Beautifully atonal as anything by Schoenberg, each little creature expresses one part in the symphony/cacophony of the whole. In the right sectors of the outdoors there are so many species that the music never stops, with different tonic keys and thematic variations for morning, noon, night, and every hour in between. Listening closely to their society you find voices searching and screaming and fucking and feeding, just as in ours.

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