Helen and I had the good fortune to experience spring all over the continent and it was always a special time wherever we were. While each season has its good points, it seems spring is always a bit special, perhaps more so in the north than in the south. We lived in Merritt Island, Fla., in the early 1960s when I worked at the Space Center and it seemed as if spring kind of sneaked up on you. To us, being from Maine, it was already summer through December and January, but we knew it was spring when suddenly the fragrance of orange blossoms permeated the air, even if you weren’t close to any orange trees. It was heavenly.

I remember writing home to my parents from Norfolk, Va., in 1952 when I was there in the Navy and telling them people were mowing their lawns in February. We had had a whole two months of winter. That may have given them the idea to close the candy shop in the winter and go to Sarasota, Fla., for a few months while waiting for the tourist season to revive in the late spring.

Later, when we lived in Rhode Island, my friend Bob Wilson and I went snorkeling in the ocean on Memorial Day weekend. I wore my turtleneck sweater to keep me warm in the water, but that was all I needed. Spring arrived there at least two or three weeks sooner than in Maine.

Some years later we lived in Fitzgerald, Ga., for three years. Whenever we had driven down Route 1 through Georgia before it had seemed a very uninteresting state, but we were pleasantly surprised the first spring we lived there by the great profusion of flowering trees and shrubs in the spring. The magnolias, various types of azaleas and other flowers were amazing. I was especially impressed with the rambling Cherokee roses growing wild. Another interesting phenomenon was the migration of the turtles. They came out of the swamps and wetlands and were all over the roads. It was difficult to drive without running over them. The big question there was, “Why did the turtle cross the road?”

I had a similar surprise when we lived in Dawson City, Yukon, for several years. Winter was long there. Usually, every flake of snow that had fallen since October was still there on April 1. The snow would be 8 feet deep in the open field and deeper in some places. But as the sun got higher in the sky in April the snow started to melt, and would all be gone by the middle of May.

During that breakup season we would have to get our drinking water from a brook in the woods instead of from the Klondike River where we usually got it. Spring broke out in a rush there, and it seemed that every green plant was busy flowering and pollinating and along with the insects they were prolific all through the woods. I remember seeing an outbreak of little red mites spreading over the snow from where they had hatched out in little puddles of melt water on the ice. Apparently they were in a hurry to get out of sight before some larger creature found them there.

Soon, about May 20, the swallows would arrive from Capistrano or some such place to feast on the myriad insects that were hatching out, and we would hear great migrations of geese and cranes flying farther north. They would often break formation over the Klondike and circle to gain altitude to pass over the range of mountains just north of us. They would be a noisy bunch when they came in low from the south, but by the time they reformed to cross the mountains you could hardly hear them anymore.

Of course, here in Maine spring was always anticipated after a long winter. In those days there was not so much fresh produce in the markets and folks would watch for the first signs of spring to go dig dandelions and gather fiddleheads. After a long winter of fish, biscuits and potatoes the first greens of spring were welcome. If you got them early, the dandelion greens were not so bitter. They got more bitter after they blossomed, but folks would help the taste by pouring off the first boil and adding a slice of salt pork.

There’s a lot of discussion about global warming these days, but I believe it’s true. We had some warm weather at the end of April this year that we used to not get until the middle of May. When I lived on Blake Street in Millville, about the middle of May we would get a few warm days and some of us boys would head up Mt. Battie Street to check Shirttail Point. Mt. Battie Street was a dirt road then beyond Mill Street. We would stop a few minutes to check the fish under the bridge over the Megunticook River and then go on up past the Seabright Mill and down past Jim Brown’s ice house. He was no longer cutting ice in the late 1930s, but for several years we could still find ice there under the sawdust.

From the ice house there was just a tractor trail through a few woods to Shirttail Point. Some folks would walk down through the field from upper Washington Street. Shirttail was, and still is, a popular swimming hole later in the season, but in the middle of May, warm wasn’t the right adjective. However, we would jump in for a quick dip, turn a light shade of blue, and be out again so fast we hardly got wet. Then we would go back and brag around the neighborhood that we had been swimming.

Kids would ask,  “Was it warm?”

“Oh sure. You ought to try it.”