I’m experiencing my first Spring in Western New York.
More than being a lovely season, it’s been an honest time of “firsts” for me. One such realization came not too long ago…
Growing up in Central Florida, I was a total Disney kid. We’d go to the parks all the time and before I hit middle school I knew the words and songs to all of my favorite attractions. At some point, and I’m not exactly sure when it was, my family fell in love with Tomorrow Land’s “Carousel of Progress.” Without Googling at all, I can tell you the Carousel of Progress was created as a World’s Fair exhibit a decade or two before I was born. After gaining popularity and adoration from the fair-goers, it went on to retire at WDW as a permanent attraction.
The Carousel of Progress (COP) is what I call a show-ride. A rollercoaster it is not, but the seats do move. Well, they rotate. It’s a rotating theater wherein the audience glides around the track from one set to the next, and then you exit where you started. The “actors” are all animatronic, as Disney is famous for. The premise centers on a typical American family over the course of four generations.
On one particular family trip to Disney we had a wacky experience at the COP. We entered, excited as always by the cool temps and darkness inside (offering much needed solace from a hot and sunny Florida day). At the end of the first scene as the song cranks up, you expect that the seats are about to start rotating and you’ll head onto scene two.
On this day though, the ride broke down and our seats did not move. We saw the animatronic man in his old-fashioned kitchen singing, swaying his head around in an awkward movement only possible for a Disney robot, While he sings, a shaggy robotic dog wags his tail in time. “Now is the time, now is the best time, now is the best time of our lives. Yesterdays memories may sparkle and shine and tomorrow is still but a dream. Right here and now, you’ve got it made and you’re in the parade! Now is the time…” (It goes on and on like Lambchop’s Singalong).
The first line of the first scene in COP is, “Well, the robins are back. That’s a sure sign of Spring.” The man in his 1800s kitchen looks out the window at a fake robin that whistles via soundtrack. We must have been stuck in there for five or six scene lengths. Every time we’d hear, “Well, the robins are back. That’s a sure sign of Spring,” we’d crack up! We started reciting his lines with him. By the time we were freed from the repetitive Carousel, we had basically memorized his whole schtick.
Okay, so I did a quick Google just now. Wikipedia does a great job of explaining the details, and I found this awesome video:
*Note, after 1993 they updated the ride, giving it a new song and different dialogue. You can watch that version here.
Watching the video, I do admit that I messed up the order of the lyrics a tiny bit. What’s really troubling though, is realizing they stopped the version I had memorized in 1993. I turned ten that year. What kind of young kid goes to Disney and considers such an educational and adrenaline-less attraction to the best? And how can I still remember all that detail so many years later?
I was one history-loving child nerd, that is certain.
In the early 90s I learned that animatronic robot men associate chirping birds with Spring. It wouldn’t be until 2013 that I’d finally draw that conclusion for myself.
The pros of growing up in Florida abound from the whole Disney thing, to the beaches, being able to watch shuttle launches and wearing shorts on Christmas. Florida can be rad. But an area you really miss out on = seasons.
Intellectually, I’ve understood seasons since a very early age. I remember classrooms and decor always depicting fall’s leaves, winter’s snow, and spring’s flowers. I understood that was what others experienced. But for myself, I only really knew hot and not-hot, and in my life foliage lasted all year long.
My brain understood how the robins being back indicated a new season for other regions, but I had never witnessed that for myself.
Now we live in Western New York, and while I love this area for many reasons, experiencing four very distinct seasons is way up there! I enjoyed the winter, with its cold temps, snow and ice. As Spring began to roll around and those snow days turned into rainy ones, I found myself being really bummed. “I’m not ready for it to be hot yet,” “I want one more big snow,” and a host of other afraid-to-let-go-of-winter thoughts and complaints were the extent of my Spring-related feelings.
That is until one nice morning not too long ago. I was up early taking the dogs out when I heard the unmistakable sound of birds chirping. At that moment, it dawned on me that I hadn’t heard the birds chirping for months. To clarify, I’m not an idiot. I know that birds migrate. I know the birds left the area last fall, but I never recognized or noted their absence. Winter just sorta crept up and happened, Mother Nature’s morning soundtrack subtly changed. After months of early morning quiet, the chirping birdies that came back created a cacophony of avian songs that was impossible to miss. Bam! Spring is here.
As soon as the birds-spring connection registered in my mind, I found myself saying aloud: “Well, the robins are back. That’s a sure sign of Spring!” While it made me LOL, I also realized something else… After decades of knowing that line, I finally finally actually understood it!
The birds tweeting about aren’t the only harbinger of the season that I’ve noticed. The foliage seemed to have come alive overnight. We moved into our new home last month and all the trees were still bare. We could see dirt patches that we knew were gardens / landscaped, and of course as the snow all melted we had green grass everywhere. And then one day I was taking the dogs out for their morning pee and bam! THE TREES HAD LEAVES. Our bulb garden bloomed over night, just everything. It all grows so fast, and it just shows up. Boom.
For everyone who’s ever lived in a place with seasons, I know you’re thinking that I’m a feral child who was offered cooked food for the first time. But seriously, this has been one of the biggest surprises of my life. We always said “April showers bring May flowers” in school, but until now I didn’t really really get it.
Something else great about spring: temperate weather. In Florida, you get way more unbearably hot days than you ever do “nice” days. During our first fall in WNY, I really embraced the beauty of 60 degrees and sunny. I stand by my statement that I love the cold weather, I do. But even I know now that temps in the 60s with the kind of sunshine that makes everything feel bright without burning you to a crisp is just far more amazing than I ever could have known. I try to always have appreciation for the great things I experience; I’ve often been told that I have a child-like sense of wonder about the world around me. The smallest things can just bowl me over, I’m easily excitable.
This whole revelation of Spring really has me feeling like a kid. From what I gather though, the wonderment of this lovely season never gets old.
The beauty of everything coming to life, the colors, the smells, the energy – it’s amazing. It’s really brilliant. And I can’t believe my parents chose Florida of all places to live and I got ripped off on 28 other springs I could have seen. But hey, at least I’m experiencing it now, right? And besides, now is the time. Now is the best time. Now is the best time of our lives.
Sources for Carousel Of Progress Images: