Springtime States Of Mind

The Season Of Green And Rebirth Delights Some People And Irrates Others


With a tentative crocus here and a drift of snowdrops there, spring slowly begins. Then, there's no telling what may happen. Snow showers, a heat wave, freezing rain: All are possible during this capricious season.

Expectations for spring fluctuate as wildly as can its weather. Some find joy simply in the return of a robin or the season's incipient sense of change, when, as festival planner Julie Fisher says, "all the delicate, transitory, beautiful elements Mother Nature has created and that make living and breathing feel worthwhile" reappear.

But those who chronically expect more than spring can deliver may feel disappointment and frustration.

Healers familiar with such emotions view spring through a disciplined lens. Artists, for whom spring's visual gifts are inherently therapeutic, may capture the energy of interlocking ecosystems with an inspired streak of purple or blue. Others, laid low by invisible clouds of tree pollen, grow too weary of sneezing to see the forest - or the trees.

On Page 10N, a handful of those whose lives are rooted, by desire or necessity, to this season speak to their springtime state of mind.

The palette changes

When spring comes to Galesville on the West River in Anne Arundel County, Roxanne Weidele rediscovers her watery surroundings by kayak or canoe.

"It's a time for us to go back on the water. We go way back into the creeks," says Weidele, whose pastel landscapes are shown at the Craig Flinner Gallery in Baltimore.

Because it's difficult to take along art supplies, and "the water and sky change so rapidly, I use that time to be there at the moment and also to take photos," Weidele says.

Her photographs inspire Weidele's impressionistic, peaceful vistas. In spring, "the total palette changes," she says. "Because I've gone through winter and I usually do snow scenes and bare trees." Then, "All of a sudden, the green starts coming. The sky is different; the light is different."

In spring, surprises abound. A muted field may suddenly blaze with color. Weidele will glance at a meadow that appeared moribund a day earlier and exclaim: "Oh my goodness! The purple dead nettles are out!"

The smell of baseball

"Spring to me is baseball," says Foster Tuck, a coach for Baltimore's Northwood Little League. "The grass starts turning green, the weather is warm, the smell of baseball is in the air."

Tuck has coached in the league for 14 years. He started when his son was small, and has continued even as his son, now 18, outgrew the league.

When he was a kid in the 1950s, Tuck played for the Coldstream League in Baltimore. He recalls that his coaches "invested in us and kept us off of the streets and gave us something to do."

For that reason, "I want to give something [in return] to the community," Tuck says.

Opening day for Tuck and his team is April 30. All too soon, it will be over. "Believe it or not, when baseball season's over, I get depressed."

Sneezing season

The emergence of tree and grass pollens are overlapping miseries for those prone to spring allergies. "Very unfortunately, these people are not looking forward to spring," says allergist Dr. Sudhir Sekhsaria.

"Most people won't see us until they are pretty much suffering a lot," says Sekhsaria, who practices at Union Memorial and Franklin Square hospitals.

"Unfortunately, that's when the treatment doesn't work as well as it does on a pre-emptive basis," he says. "The ideal way to treat a person is two weeks prior to the season." That way, "We could pretty much ensure a person goes through the season with minimal symptoms."

How can you tell when it's two weeks before sneezing season? "Unfortunately," Sekhsaria says, "in spring, that's not always predictable."

Tulips, just in time

Spring "always comes in Maryland just in time, just when I'm on the brink of ..." Kate Blom doesn't finish her sentence, but you know it's not good.

In some ways, though, spring began nearly a year ago for Blom, supervisor of the Baltimore Conservatory and Botanic Gardens, part of the Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks.

She ordered tulip bulbs last July, planted them with her staff in September, unearthed and forced them for early blooming in December. By Feb. 6, "I saw the first greening of a tulip," Blom says.

Tulips bloomed in profusion during the conservatory's spring show; others now fill some 25 flower beds.

By mid-May, the tulips will be pulled and replaced by "tropicals and annuals and things like that," Blom says. There will be "marvelous red banana plants donated from Longwood Gardens" in front of the Palm House.

There will be papayas as well. In steamy Baltimore, "they actually bear fruit," Blom says.

But that's jumping ahead to summer.

Sunshine and good stuff

You may call Julie Fisher a spring entrepreneur. This is the time of year when her outdoor event planning expertise kicks into high gear. Currently, she's planning the Wild Wings, Fairies & Things Festival, scheduled for May 21 at the Carrie Murray Nature Center in Leakin Park.

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