Thursday, March 8, 2012


Spring is my favorite season. Having grown up in Michigan, we waited patiently, very patiently, for that first golden spray of forsythia to tell us winter was over. And even then we might get another blizzard, crushing those fragile first blossoms. Erin Stead, who illustrated Julie Fogliano’s And Then It’s Spring also grew up in Michigan. Maybe that’s why her visual interpretation of the hero's emotions in Fogliano’s poetic text feels so right and true.

Spring is the season akin to the starlet who’s an “overnight sensation.” No one knows of the years of cold call auditions and being turned away and lining up again. Few but the starlet remember the hard slogging and patient persistence once success arrives. When spring finally bursts into full bloom, we feel we’ve earned it, after all those dark days of endless trudging in high boots through cold snow.

Yet because spring has always come, we trust that it will come again. Like the young gardener in Fogliano's story, we start to see glimmers of “a hopeful, very possible sort of brown” in the same brown ground we’ve stared at for many bleak months. We, too, see a... “is that a little green?/ no, it’s just brown sort of brown,” and then, a week later with still no change, we think the worst. Birds have eaten the seeds, bears have stomped on the seeds. This is my favorite line of the book: “[B]ears can’t read signs/ that say things like/ ‘please do not stomp here--/there are seeds/ and they are trying.' ”

Aren’t we all trying? Just trying to get through these last brown days, however long the brown stays, until the green pokes through. “Please do not stomp here, there are seeds and they are trying!” It’s so much more eloquent than “Stay off the grass.” And while we wait for the seeds to succeed, we can put an old tire to use as a swing or refashion a milk carton as a bird feeder.

And then suddenly a riot of color runs rampant, and cherry blossom trees escort us on our walks up the Hudson River or past the reflecting pool in our nation’s capitol, or in the town square in cities all across America. And we have an overnight sensation: Spring.

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