Southern Spring

I grew up in the north – upstate New York, to be exact. The autumn scenery where I grew up was spectacular, with brilliant maples painting the landscape of the crisp autumn days. I miss the beauty of the fall. Down south, we have mainly pines and oaks, neither of which do much during the fall.

While people make great treks to see beautiful fall foliage, I am not certain as to why the South does not get equal billing on the colors of spring.

In the North, the most miserable months of the year are March and April. They tease you with bits of warm weather, only to be followed by another foot of snow. By the end of April, the weather gets better, but even the warmer weather is rarely accompanied by anything but clouds and rain.

Spring in the South is completely different. Where I live, they start in the middle of February, with the first blooming crocuses and lilies. This is followed by a few weeks with pink blooms of cherry trees scattered through the countryside.

Right now we are in the pear blossom and wisteria stage. Pear trees are much bigger than cherry trees and there are many more of them. They bloom with white blossoms that cover the tree like icing. Often they are planted in large rows, making a wall of white for long distances. The wisteria highlights the landscape with patches of purple flowing from the top of the trees to the bottom.

Soon we will have the next wave of color, with the famous azaleas of Augusta showing their flaming colors throughout the neighborhoods of the city. Legend has it that the caretakers at the Augusta National (where the Masters tournament is held every year on the first week of April) put ice around the Azaleas if they are blooming early so that they will peak at the time of the tournament. Our azaleas have started blooming already. They are accompanied by the elegant dogwood trees, which also are a famous adornment at the Augusta National.

The last wave of spring flowers is one for the nose, not the eyes. Honeysuckle vines come later in the spring, wafting sweet smells everywhere. While their flowers are somewhat humble, they let off a sweet smell that lets me know that there will be no more cold nights – just the comfort of a Southern spring.

The downside? The pollen is amazing. The pine trees put out a tremendous amount of pollen that coats everything. We are just getting into that season. You have yellow pollen coating your car every day. The local carwashes have special "pollen cleaning" where you just get rinsed off. Augusta has ranked with Atlanta as one of the highest pollen areas in the country (or so I am told). As a physician I see it as job security.

The vast majority of days from March to June are sunny and range from 60-80. I have already spent the past two Saturdays in shorts. If you add in our long and warm falls, the number if nice sunny days is more than double those of the other places I have lived. Yes, the summers are long and hot, but on the balance, I am very happy to be a Southerner.