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A Southern Spring

The other day a neighbor asked me tongue in cheek if I missed the weather in Syracuse. At the time it was a balmy 60 degrees here in North Carolina. I had just checked the news earlier that day for the weather in Central New York, something I do every morning over cereal. The newscaster had predicted an arctic blast headed for the area with snow expected. It got me thinking. Do I miss the weather in New York?

umbrella girl

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I guess the answer is sometimes. I definitely don’t miss the mess. Muddy boots, wet gloves and coats all over the foyer at home. I remember just moving into our house in Liverpool when an acquaintance came in and said, “You are going to need a nice big rug in your entryway.” I asked why, and he replied with a smile, “Ask me again next spring.” Sure enough, it didn’t take long to realize that hardwoods don’t take kindly to salt, snow, and mud spread over them by five very active children.

I don’t miss the bundling-up part either. It never failed to surprise me each spring how quickly kids could pile in the car to go somewhere without the hassle of having to pull on gloves, hats, snowpants, boots and coats. That added at least 15 minutes to our travel time during the winter. I loved summer, when slipping on a pair of flip-flops was all we needed for a trip to the playground. 

Now for the pluses. You can’t beat autumn in New York. I’ve lived all over the United States, and nowhere holds a candle to the beautiful colors the leaves turn in Syracuse during late September and October. I remember looking out my window at my favorite tree in the front yard each fall. There is no color to describe the leaves of that tree in autumn. They were kind of a burnt orange, but with a touch of cinnamon. The color of those leaves against a robin’s egg blue sky was simply breathtaking. 

After we moved, I even had a friend snip a twig from that tree so I could take it to a landscaper here. Sadly, the leaf didn’t survive its trip through the U.S. postal system, but I am convinced I will find a similar tree to plant in my front yard here in Greenville before the year is out.

Also, while the springs here in North Carolina are glorious with their dogwoods and crepe myrtles, reminiscent of fairy lace, I have to say I enjoy the spring months in Central New York even more. While waiting for the school bus one crisp April morning with my neighbor, I remember our getting so excited we were almost giddy at the first sight of a flock of Canada geese flying north. Yeah! They were finally returning home from their winter hiatus. Spring must be just around the corner. 

I love gardening and would start holding a vigil each April for the first bright, green shoots to poke their heads through the earth. Brave, little crocuses, golden daffodils—a burst of color after the endless white of winter. 

I wasn’t the only one excited. Kids would don their rain boots. There would be a grand search for windbreakers and capris. Bicycles and scooters were unearthed from garden sheds, and the whole neighborhood seemed to wake up from its hibernation. I’ve never seen people enjoy the warm weather so much, taking full advantage of barbecues, outdoor sports and swimming in the summer months. I miss that camaraderie over the weather.

I guess the trump card for me is the beach. New York doesn’t have one, and North Carolina does. I am sort of a beach addict, so that is big for me. 

Over the Christmas holidays, our family made the hour and a half trek to beach Mecca: Nags Head. We were there to visit the museum at Kitty Hawk as extra credit for a school social studies project. But, after a morning of learning about biplanes and flight attempts, the beach called. We were the first to walk on the virgin sand that afternoon, no one else willing to brave a little rain and a stiff breeze to enjoy the surf. (As veteran Central New Yorkers that kind of weather didn’t faze us in the least.) 

I watched my children roll up their pant legs and kick off their shoes while they ran through the waves. Granted, they could only take the cold water for a few minutes, but then there was a truckload of seashells strewn around on the beach for them to collect. They stayed content and busy for the whole time we were there. At the risk of sounding like an advertisement for the Outer Banks, it was an amazing afternoon.

The bottom line is apples and oranges. There are seasonal beauties in both of these places I have grown to love: Syracuse, N.Y., and Greenville, N.C. We’ve been privileged to experience the wonders of both areas. I’ll give you a couple of afternoons basking on the N.C. beach for a crisp autumn day picking pumpkins with the children surrounded by painted trees in Syracuse. A pretty fair trade, I would say. 

In 2008, Kelly Taylor, her husband, Alan, and their five children moved from their Liverpool home of 10 years to Greenville, N.C. Kelly holds a master’s degree in family studies. To comment on this article, write to editorial@familytimes.biz. 

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