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  • Writer's pictureKimberly OLeary

Four Springtimes in 1 Year - Primavera, Spring, Printemps, Kevät (travels with my uke)

Updated: May 27, 2023

One of the advantages of landing in Portugal in mid-January, then slowly traveling north over more than four months, is the arrival of Spring four times!

In Portugal, we arrived in 50F weather, mostly sunny winter. The grass was green, but the trees were not blooming yet.

By late January, azaleas were blooming

February and March brought many flowers

When we arrived in London in mid-March, it was about 50F, and most plants were just thinking about Spring.

By early April, we were treated with hundreds of tulips, daffodils, and camelias. The leaves opened up and the trees began to bloom.

By Easter, everything was in bloom - the azaleas were blooming three months later than in Lisbon!

We got to Paris on May 1 – May Day! It was a short trip - just 4 days, the tulips were in bloom, and late Spring was flourishing. The hill of Montmartre boasted newly blooming wisteria. Springtime in Paris!

On May 5, we arrived in Helsinki to bare trees and about 50F weather.

But, a week later, we were seeing the start of tulips and by May 14, beautiful blooming cherry trees!

Somewhere between the third and fourth week of May, the days were warmer and everything was budding and blooming!

I think the Finns appreciate Spring the most. For the Lisbon dwellers, the winter is not so cold, and the sun doesn’t really go away. London and Paris get their share of winter cold, but the darkest, longest, coldest days belong to the icy north. People in Helsinki have endured a season of almost total darkness, weathered ice in the sea and snow on the ground into early May. When Spring hits Helsinki, everyone is outside. As the Finns like to say, “Jos on hyvä sää, kannattaa olla ulkona!” which means, “If the weather is good, you should be outdoors!” Spring is a celebration – all the more precious because it won’t last long. But the days are almost endless, with light filling the sky even after 10pm, even after the sun actually sets, in late May.

Our friend, Irena, suggested a Finnish folk song for me to learn, which celebrates this season of Spring. The song, “Kevätsää Lämmittää” means “Spring is coming” or more literally, “Spring is warming”. When I asked my ukulele teacher to help me arrange it, she said our four seasons of Spring reminded her of The Little Prince watching 44 sunsets in one day by moving his chair. One sees the sunsets when one is sad, says The Little Prince, but one experiences Spring when one is happy, I think. Such are the perks of being a nomad.

Like anything else, there are downsides to four Springs – allergies have been nonstop. Spring can come with wind and rain. But on the whole, it is an optimistic time of year. It offers the promise of warmth and light and birdsong and flowers.


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