This is spring to me. Spring is a time of regeneration and celebration: when animals, plants, and humans alike announce their joy and presence for all to hear. Along with this, come the showers, the thunderstorms, the worms, and the puddles.
Does this represent spring for everyone? It is true that there are many places where my idea of spring does not exist. What then do my memories and ideas represent, if I am the only one that holds them?
Moving to Italy
When you decide to move halfway across the world, to a place where you have never lived before, you naturally expect that some things will be different. For example, I was told that Italy has an incredible amount of bureaucracy (true) and that it would take a month to get my internet set up (false: it took three), among other things.
What I didn't expect, was that something as seemingly insignificant as a season, would affect me so much. In November, during my first year in Italy, I began to have an intense desire for snow. For winter. For shoveling the driveway and scraping ice off of my car. For the wonderland of ice crystals that appear after a snowstorm. For getting bundled up, and frozen lakes, and hot cocoa, and...
I hope you see my point. I had nostalgia for a season which I could no longer experience. A part of my life that was constant, that signaled to me the end of some things and the beginning of others. I truly missed it -- I yearned for it from the deepest regions of my heart. I'm from Toronto, where we experience a yearly temperature shift from 30 below zero to 30 above zero! I thought I could handle anything.
Genoa does not have seasons in the way that I recognize them. There is certainly a hot and sunny summer (which is perfect for dipping into the sea!) and a windy yet mild winter (with a good dose of rain).
defining a season
What is a season, then? And why is this analysis of seasons relevant?
Well, for precisely this reason: in Italy, seasons are defined partially by the weather, but more importantly, by the food that is available.
The food that is fresh, local, and at its prime. The colours that overflow the market stalls. The aromas that waft out of windows and doors as one walks past. The tastes of food at the moment in which it offers its best flavour.
Eating local, seasonal fruits and vegetables means that one supports the cultivation of food with minimal energy usage. Food is grown from the ground and nurtured by the sun. It travels a short distance from the farm to the market. And perhaps best of all, it is picked at the precise moment that it is ready to be enjoyed.
Spring, in Italy, is defined by enjoying the last of the artichokes while celebrating the arrival of strawberries, asparagus, and peas. The mint in the herb garden acting as the perfect accompaniment to the sweet, green fruits of this season.
I am content with my new idea of spring, woven together with my old one. A different, yet welcome, way to signal the end of some things, and the beginning of others.