The Grass is Riz

Spring in Mexas is hot. Extremely hot.

Well, hot compared to spring in South Jersey. In fact, every season in Mexas is hot compared to its Jersey counterpart.

The plus side is that we get some rain and/or humidity here during springtime. These elements are largely absent during the rest of the year. Thus, spring is the season where the weather most closely resembles South Jersey, where the climate is comparable to that of the UK.

One of the plant-y events that unofficially marked the start of the season back East, while I was growing up, was dandelions clocks and the resulting flowers. The quick mix of rain and heat all the time made for an overabundance of these fairly attractive weeds.

(dandelion clock photo by Wonglijie)

I can’t recall ever seeing any of these harbingers of decent weather in Mexas, which is kind of a bummer in the case of the clocks, which are fun. I’m actually delighted, however, to now live in a place where dandelion flowers are nowhere to be seen. I have an irrational dislike for the little yellow guys. I have never explored the origins of these negative feelings, and I never will. Some things you just have to accept.

(dandelion flower by Eric Baetscher)

Mexas has it’s own bits of springy floral overabundance, though.


These things are everywhere. But they are very little, so after a while you stop noticing them. I just happen to be obsessed with them because they are new to me. (Also they are a delightful shade of pink.)

(It’s like Where’s Waldo, isn’t it?!) (They really are all over that lawn.)

I didn’t even notice these guys last year. I think all of the “big things,” like the minuscule amount of Mexas rain (one week, compared with South Jersey’s two or three months) or the intense heat were the headliners then, during our first spring in Mexas. But they are non-events this year. How many times can I really get excited about hot?

I believe, however, that I will go on noticing the smaller differences for years to come. This year was little pink flower things, next year it might be the bugs or something. Living in one region for decades ingrains you with a brain full of expectations that you don’t even realize exist until their sources disappear and new ones take their place.

Like the old dandelions and the new little pink guys.

Or the quality of green in Mexas springtime blooms. It’s so light, and so yellow. When I recall the kinds of greens associated with east coast springs, I have this vague impression of very deep, dark, almost purply greens (which may or may not be accurate; certainly they’re very deep and dark vs. Mexas greens).

And creek or small river beds that I’ve grown accustomed to viewing as dry, because they’ve been dry for 9 or 10 months, have suddenly swelled, and will stay full for a while. And unlike the water sources from back East, they will empty out again as soon as the summer really gets going. I’m not used to living in a place where the sky and the ground dry up. No underwater springs or aquafers here!

Life Lesson: The huge events (eg: 115 degree summers where 85 degree summers used to exist) are always going to be the ones I remember with the most clarity. But it is the small, less obvious changes that take place around a big one that really shape a new experience. And it’s the small things that eventually ease me into a sense of normalcy. The small changes will always make me the most twitchy, at first, because nothing will seem “right,” but once I’ve experienced enough of them, they become little landmarks.

This year I’m well familiar with the heat. Next year the little pink flowers will be old news. Enough of that, and I’ll be a native.

*Disclaimer, lest you think I’m exaggerating with the quality of green and the lack of Jersey-like rainfall while viewing that last picture: We live in an apartment complex that spends incredible time and effort (and water) to get the lawn to look like this. We’re talking hours of water and careful grooming (not exaggerating) every single day of the year. We pay for this singular attention to detail (dearly), but it is lovely.

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