Why spring makes me feel exposed.

The bleeding heart in my backyard garden.

The bleeding heart in my backyard garden.

How do you feel when you put on shorts for the first time in spring? 

I feel exposed, almost naked when the air hits my pasty white legs. The same when I put on a short sleeve shirt - I want to grab a jacket to cover up.  I can’t say it takes effort to step outside so lightly attired on the first nice day, but it requires conscious deliberation.

Likewise, although I’m an avid gardener, I have trouble getting myself into the thicket of my passion in the early spring.  Something about stepping out into the yard without the wrappings of winter-wear makes me feel vulnerable.  

Earlier this week, I had planned to do some work in the yard.  It was mid sixties, clear and sunny, a slight chill to the air. Perfect gardening weather. But I kept finding excuses to avoid it:  I’d have to dig out my gardening clothes.  Find my old sneakers. Spray myself with deer tick repellant. Slather on sunscreen. Get sweaty and dirty.  Nope. Couldn't do it.

Don’t get me wrong - I wait expectantly all year for spring.  When the green tips poking through the soil remind me of their beauty to come, it’s like Christmas in April.

But I’m realizing that I need a transition period.  I’m not like the arborvitae in my backyard, stolidly green through every season. I’m not like my lenten rose, a ground-breaker through even frozen soil. I’m more of a bleeding heart, tentatively peeking up through the earth after the daffodils, crocuses, and forsythia have bloomed. Like a bleeding heart, I wait until all the other plants nod their flower heads in agreement to say, Yes, the time is right.

I’m accepting that I have to take it slowly. When it’s warm enough, I first open some windows inside, and the fresh air filling the room is all I need.  My next step is to walk around the yard and my gardens, assessing what has to be done and what I should tackle first. Then I retreat to the house and flip through garden catalogues, wistfully planning this year’s perennial additions, and plotting a new defense against my nemesis the deer. 

Then, with a little push from my inner Martha Stewart, out I go.  Once I get started, I can’t understand my own hesitance.  There are days that I won’t want to quit.  This summer, I’ll write about how I’m so obsessed with gardening that the fridge is bare, laundry is a mountain, and a layer of dust as thick and fuzzy as lamb’s ear covers my living room.

The best explanation I have for what I’ll dub my “spring exposure syndrome” is that I’m an introvert.  My personality is well suited to winter. I’m OK cocooning inside. I actually like it. In fact, I love having nowhere to go and no reason to leave the house for several days.  If you’re an extrovert, this probably sounds like hell.  But if you’re a fellow introvert, you get it.

So every year when spring arrives, I crack out of my protective habitat that has kept me well-nested all winter. I emerge a little shriveled and pale. I need some time to absorb the sun and flutter my wings before I can launch.  

Maybe by the time you read this, I’ll be up to my elbows in mulch and compost, happily talking to my irises and allium, welcoming us all to a new year.

Now that I’ve shared this weird idiosyncrasy of mine, I feel exposed again, hoping I’m not the only one who feels this way.  What about you - do you need to transition into spring or other seasons?  If so, what do you do?  You can post a comment on this site, or click the Facebook "f" and comment there.