I almost drove off the road when I caught sight of the wild Merriam’s turkeys — two or three toms were in full display mating mode. How could you miss them? Sunlit, the ivory and cream bands of their tail fans were incandescent, their regal sway reminiscent of an elk’s antlers or a Plains chief war bonnet. Doubled in size, sheaves of feathers puffed and bristled as they strutted about — dragon scale armor in the battle for sex. Even at a distracted 68 mph, spring fever flushed at their virile display.
As a tweener moving into puberty, that fever was unbearable: an unquenchable hunger. A switch flipped with the melting of snow, the rising of sap (did you feel it too?). Winter’s heavy or knit browns and olives gave way to bright and poppy, a match to the energy sizzling inside me. The kiss of balmier air, warmer, more golden sunlight was an invitation to bare the skin. Happy to trade coconut infused afternoons for more golden skin, the contrast of white between brown toes and fingers measured days of lazy pleasures. Laced through it all? That maddening, unrequited yearning.
As a kid, I didn’t quite get it, but walk any college campus in April and you can see it, writ large. “Twitterpation,” Thumper explains to Bambi as the forest creatures get all goofy and pair up.
Mainstream culture markets spring fever, too, selling arousal and attraction.
What a miss, “packaging” such a powerful human experience as something to buy — the Spring 2022 line; another this, one more that. There’s so much more packaged in the surge of emotions and sensations that rise with the fall of winter. This disconnect as our hemisphere on Earth enlivens misses the sheer profundity of being Homo sapiens.
Spring is transformation; our transformation in relationship to the living world around us.
By nature, the Homo sapiens organism is sensuous. Our physiological body relates to the reality around us through our senses — interconnected, interdependent with species, flora, fauna, environment, weather, climate, energy. On and on. Our skin feels warmer air, eyes see longer days and perceive “spring.” We respond, getting all twitterpated.
Osprey in Latin America sense change through eyes, ears, skin, too. They fly north when the reality of Nature downshifts. Though mated for life, they winter apart, and one of them has returned to Nuche Park. Today, perched on a side branch, its silhouette to the south of their nest, is an affirming sight to me — and perhaps twitterpating to their mate, leading, hopefully, to a new clutch of eggs.
The H. sapiens organism relates to Nature at a sensual level, too — sense stimulation birthing emotion: the elation, joy, pleasure or hunger we experience this time of year. A skein of geese threading in a V across the skies of February and March, made me long for spring. The changing winter light on their bodies, the buoyant lift in their wings, the familiar honk of camaraderie filled my ears, my eyes. Pleasure filled me, too: spring!
Andreas Weber, a European marine biologist and philosopher I admire, writes that “The living world, its vibrant matter and radiant energy, is a poetic space where living beings express their experience of being alive.”
While the idea of a frothy new skirt on my golden skin attracting the golden boys of summer amid the golden hour is fun, my spring fever is now more often satiated through connection with the natural world. In vibing with mating species, swelling buds and flowing sap, I meet the appetite and life coursing within me.
I experience commitment in twin silhouettes of the osprey. Magic is made real in the tassels glistening in the aspens right now. And when the gambel oaks burst into leaf, why, there is nothing like that delicate, bright new green to touch the delicate spaces and hope within my own nature. Pursuing these feelings and feeding the urges pulls me from my desks, from my screens. As with the creatures around me, Nature in the spring lures me from my den — to work, to forage, to play — to feel genuinely connected to all that lives and exists in this grand vastness.