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Culture
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Health

I See Spring! And I Smell Spring!

From funky skunks to nipped-out nearly nudes, let’s ditch the puffer coats and herald the harbingers of the new season.

Dorothy Woodend 30 Mar 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Dorothy Woodend is culture editor of The Tyee. Reach her here.

After a long season of darkness, I’m seeing signs of hope. Spring is in the air, literally: you can smell it. The green fragrance of new growth is everywhere. Buds about to pop, cherry blossoms like a pink pillow fight across the city, the celadon spears of tulips emerging from the soil. Spring happens every year, but this year it is most particularly welcome.

Along with the usual flowers and birdies, this spring has new joys to offer — people lining up to get their vaccinations, colourfully masked folks, outdoor school classes — along with the good old standbys like dudes taking their shirts off the minute the sun peeps out. Ah, the sight of male nipples in the sunshine. It gladdens the heart.

Here are a few more spring flings from The Tyee to lighten your spirit and put some pep in your step.

Old hat, new hat

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In olden times, Easter required a new outfit, and most especially a fancy new hat to mark the holiday. I think it’s high time to resurrect this idea. New hats for everyone! Take off the toques of winter and bust out the shapes and colours of spring. The bigger, floopier and more extravagant the better. Take inspiration from the riot of colour and shapes bursting forth in the natural world. You, too, are a flower of loveliness.

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The mating dance

The crows are currently chasing each other all over Vancouver. The time of the great twitterpation is nigh. I don’t mean social media — I mean the scene in Bambi, when all the woodland creatures go cross-eyed and fall over. Birds, bees, rabbits, skunk, deer, even wolverines are looking for love. Just don’t get in the path of a horned-up wolverine. That’s trouble.

Pretty!

With the ice-cream colours of crocuses, daffodils, snowdrops and cherry blossoms, it’s downright confectionary out there at the moment. While cherry blossoms steal the show, there are lots of other less showy flowers. Behold the humble dandelion, one of the earlier pops of colour to emerge and a necessary bit of early sustenance for bees and other pollinators. Don’t poison these sweet yellow guys — let them bee!

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Life outside

A few weeks back on the first warm afternoon, my local Vancouver park was filled with people and dogs lolling about, everyone seemingly high on the sheer bliss of being outside. There was something deeply heartening about the scene, maybe because, even after the terrible trudge of the previous year, the return of spring brings with it fresh hope.

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I see patios coming alive, with people sipping fruity cocktails and yammering away about Instagram or the latest big boat meme. Picnic blankets sprout on every bit of lawn, frisbees and games appear, even rounds of desultory badminton. Gangs of gardeners have started their engines and are digging, planting and buying seeds like maniacs. It’s high time to leave the confines of one’s dwelling (as per provincial health orders, natch) and breathe deeply.

Nose in the air

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There’s nothing quite like spring smells to make one believe that things are on an upwards swing. The fragrances of different trees, combined with their almost Busby Berkeley excess, makes this an excellent time for long rambles across the city. Ornamental cherry, chestnut, oak, maple, elm, hawthorn, magnolia — there are more than 30 different species of trees in Vancouver. From the nascent stickiness of the Black cottonwoods that line the East Van railway tracks, to my all-time favourite Cercidiphyllum japonicum (katsura), now’s the time to sniff some trees.

The best time to smell stuff is first thing in the morning, preferably just as the sun is coming up and green things are opening, releasing their perfumes into the air. Afternoons bring their own pleasures, when the metallic brightness of fresh cut grass pervades the air. You can even take in late evening, when the funk of actual skunks overrides the cannabis clouds. It’s all good in the smelly ’hood.

Foodstuffs

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One of the first edible things to emerge in the spring is asparagus. Giant bunches of the stuff abound at the moment. Asparagus is also one of the few foods that you can eat with your hands in polite society. Simply drag it through a puddle of melted butter and cheese, lightly sprinkle with sea salt, and present to your gaping maw. You are classy.

Nude dudes

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Really and truly, the moment the sun comes out in these parts, off go the shirts. And they’re not shy: one can often spy nude dudes from on high, as they bask in public parks along the SkyTrain route. Half-naked men can also be spotted ambling down Commercial Drive or in certain sections of New Westminster, where they set up lawn chairs and watch the world go by.

Fashioning the future

On a certain day you’ll wake up, walk out the door and realize that the season of wool and puffer coats is over. There is no set time for this to happen; it simply does. As a child, I remember the day when you could finally take off your giant winter coat and honking big boots and race around in a T-shirt and running shoes. The mad joy that attended this experience was like being released from clothing jail. Some of that fizzy feeling lingers, when the time comes to put away my winter coat. Invariably it has to be hauled out again when the weather turns mucky, but, still, for those brief moments of shining, unfettered joy and liberation, it’s worth it.

Sun showers

Springtime weather is still the greatest show around. On a single day you can have pelting rain bouncing hard as coins off the sidewalk, and gusts of wind that make the lights flicker, all melting into brief moments of pellucid sunshine. It’s terribly exciting. Long stretches of afternoon when the sun is hot, but the air is cool are, however, still the best.

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Although we’re not out of the woods yet, the return of light holds a promise for better days to come. So, come on spring, spring us from our COVID-19 prisons and let us bask in the warmth of your golden rays once more.  [Tyee]

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