Wasn’t it just yesterday when we were blogging about the new year and all the winter festivities Montreal had to offer? It seems that some of us have had our noses far too deeply buried in our thesis work and manuscripts to have fully grasped that spring is here! (Alternatively, it could very well be fright and denial, given that the months and seasons are rolling by at a much greater speed than that at which our research work is progressing).
Yup, it’s time for possibly the most drastic change of season of the year. We’re so used to winter that it takes a bit to notice the change. We start to see signs of it – often subtle – like a crocus peeking out of the still dry, leaf-covered, unturned winter soil. Another sure sign is when every single person around you has a bad cold and, try as you might to immunize yourself, it’s sadly only a matter of time until you catch it too. Other times, the signs are not subtle at all, but rather quite blatant – like this year’s 25 degree weather in the middle of March, throwing us off kilter as we dug out clothes that we usually only inaugurate in mid-June. Still, we know the sneaky tricks Montreal can play, and are reluctant to get our hopes up. “Is it spring?” we wonder, “are we done with our coats and boots for good?“, secretly bracing ourselves for that one last crazy snowfall that could very well blanket the whole town just in time for Easter. But waking up to a symphony of bird-calls in the morning, and watching the trees bud makes you feel pretty darn sure that the time has come to bid winter farewell. Soon enough, it’ll be summer in this glorious city.
Spring has always been one of my favorite times of the year. With Easter around the corner (and almost always coinciding with my birthday in April), I am filled with childhood memories of this time of family, friends, joy and fresh air. I remember how eager I’d be to start playing outside, getting my bike out of the garage and all the “summer toys” that were packed in there, in one garbage bag or another, for months. Despite the remnants of salt and pebbles in the street, I would be ready to get into summer play mode, as would all the other kids on the block. To this day, I think parks take way too long to put their swings back on! Our Easter + birthday celebrations have continued in the same tradition to this day, and the thought of this continuity warms my heart. Barring that final, malicious snowstorm, we always barbecue for Easter (but eat indoors, of course), and my parents’ house is livened with flowers, pastel colors, chocolates, eggs we’ve painted ourselves, Armenian Easter bread, and birthday cake. And, ever since I lived in Holland during a part of my Master’s studies, this time of year will always remind me of their absolutely astonishing tulip fields and the Keukenhof gardens, with variations of tulips in every color and every shade imaginable, as far as the eye can see. How could that not make your heart beat fast?
Spring really uplifts my spirits. I could be busier than ever, but somehow the stress dissipates more easily. The air feels lighter, as does the load on my shoulders. Maybe it has something to do with “spring cleaning” (not that I save all my cleaning for spring!) and de-winterizing the apartment. In putting away my boots, warm clothes and jackets, the winter doormat and the shovel, I feel a renewed energy, both in my living space and in me. I suddenly feel more able to throw out things I admittedly haven’t had use for in a couple of years, and all this has an amazing consequence on my mood.
This “fresh feeling” fortunately gets channeled into my work. Classes come to an end for the summer (along with many other extra commitments), and I am able to focus on my PhD project and associated challenges with a fresh outlook and plenty of motivation. (Note: If this motivation dips at any point, I pick up a bouquet of tulips on my way home and set them directly in front of me in the dining room. A sure fix!). Although any break in the year has this effect, to a certain extent, it’s really amplified in April and May. And, even if this motivation may not last through the entire summer without dipping here and there, I really try to take advantage of these couple of months to do lots of thinking, lots of writing, and make lots of progress.
If you’re like me – and I’m sure some of you can relate – do take advantage of this change of season to clear your mind and renew your energy and motivation! Be sure to go out for walks, feel the sun on your face, and pause to take a look at all the budding trees and pretty flowers. It’s wonderful to feel Montreal slowly come alive after a grey winter. It doesn’t take long for chairs and tables to end up on the still pebbly sidewalks – find a terrace and enjoy it, with or without your work! If you do yourself some good, you’re sure to do your work some good, too. May we all feel refreshed and happy with ourselves, in all areas of our head-spinningly busy lives. Spring is not only a season, but a state of mind. Embrace it!