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On Spring

Love & War

By Richard S. Lee

It’s supposed to be unseasonably warm today. The weather folks are predicting a high near 90 degrees. This isn’t necessarily undesirable, nor unreasonable—merely unseasonable. According to the heavens, we have six more weeks of spring before summer officially sets in; this heat wave has hit a bit early. And though March marked the beginning of spring, winter’s ghost has only recently departed, leaving behind a snowy swirl of April flurries. It’s as if we’ve gone straight from cold to hot with nothing in between. We’re missing that key transition.

Spring is a hard season to figure out, and its weather quirks are only the beginning. Here at Harvard, spring is actually several seasons rolled into one.

Foremost, spring is a season of finals. This week, courses will conclude with final lectures. Soon, students will begin writing final papers and studying for final exams. Spring is the final semester of the year, prompting final meetings among friends before summer vacations, plans for which have only now been finalized. For seniors, spring brings finality to an entire academic career, and among their thoughts is a final salute to an academic institution from which they have benefited so finely.

Spring is a season of sounds. Not just the cacophonous dissonance of the living wage campaign or the sonorous harmonies of Arts First, but also the morning singing of sparrows nesting atop the Yard’s venerable elms and the moonlight gurgling of the Charles River sweeping under the Weeks Footbridge. They can be found on the Quad’s grassy lawn, where the scampering of squirrels is chased a second later by the barking of a dog and, just slightly later, the gleeful squeal of a small child. Spring sounds invigorate the spirit, a heartening departure from winter’s solemn silence.

Spring is the season of the heart, planting seeds of romance that bloom with the azaleas of late May. Spring love propels that special pair at the House formal, the duo that dips and swirls with such fluency and grace, untouched by the surrounding sea of stumbling black ties and dresses. Spring love brings peace to the elderly man sitting silently on a bench facing the river’s edge, whose wife has long since passed away. On days like these the warm air is filled with such energy and life that, when he closes his eyes, he knows she is sitting right there beside him. Spring love can be fleeting, as in the secret kiss in a darkened recess of Lowell’s courtyard, or bittersweet, as in the final shared moment before an inevitable summer split, or pure, as in the bond between two who have just traded a question, an answer and a ring.

Spring is the season of reflection. This includes the way that sunlight reflects so brilliantly off the Charles and the way that today’s heat reflects spring’s rapid fading. But more so, it means a season for our own internal reflections, which comes easy during long afternoons idling on entryway stoops or lying comfortably in the shadow of a tree. Spring presents a chance to reflect on choices made and paths taken, to assess the past year, and, for those of us who are graduating, to discern the future.

Spring is a season of farewell and thanks. After all, the end draws near. To professors, advisers, teaching fellows and mentors who have given that priceless gift of knowledge, to friends and blockmates who have remained strong and true, to readers who have taken the time to write to this columnist—thank you and farewell.

More than anything, spring is a season to smile. Even if the weather is a bit too warm.

Richard S. Lee ’01 is a social studies concentrator in Pforzheimer House. This is his final column.

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