When cold air and warm air meet in a weather pattern, they will not mix. This feels like a phenomenon because, say you pour a warm glass of water into a cold glass of water, eventually the temperature of the water will average between the two. But meteorology tells us when warm and cold clash, they push against each other, causing a front, a boundary—and this is where unstable weather usually occurs.
Eventually, something has to give. In Colorado, we sometimes experience inversions, where the warm air simply rises above the cold and we can all turn our noses up at the Denver people, sitting pretty in our warmer, sunnier weather. (Do this, but just know they can’t see you because they’re below the clouds and probably inside hiding from the cold.) It’s like the warm air takes the higher road, literally and figuratively.
In other cases, it’s not as peaceful. The clash creates all sorts of disruption, most commonly rainfall, which is why in many places spring is the rainy season. This I imagine more like warm air coming in and saying, “Hey, winter! Get out of here, guy.” But the cold air is like, “Five more minutes,” because that’s all anyone wants when it’s cold outside—just a little more time in that cozy spot in bed. Then the warm air gets impatient because somewhere along the line, we were told that March is springtime. Warm air pushes cold air, cold air gets sad, cold air cries. Et voilà.
But wait a minute. Why do we expect spring by the beginning of March? It doesn’t feel like spring. Historically, nothing in the mountains in March suggests spring, if we’re defining spring as this sort of warming up. Up here at elevation, spring is some of the best snow, the best skiing, all the best of winter. And we are still in the thick of it too: panicking about whether the firewood is running out and, my God, trying to navigate the trail around Evergreen Lake. (Sad to see the ice skating rink close? Just take a little spin around the lake—the trail is as icy smooth as glass. You can get out on most trails in regular sneakers if you must, but for the walk around the lake, take your spikes.)
According to my Google confirmations, spring begins on March 20, and the season lasts until the summer solstice on June 21. But I told someone on the last day of February that I was in a springy sort of mood. Why did cleaning out drawers sound like a thrill? Why was I refusing the sweaters in my closet? Why was I glancing out the sunny window and stepping outside without a coat only to freeze in my car waiting for it to heat up?
Then I realized when I went into Target the other day, that everything was so bright and light. The store was washed in pastels, decorated in florals, dotted with eggs and Easter bunnies. I saw straw hats and beach bags with pompoms, rotating racks of big new sunnies, sandals and flowery dresses. Suddenly, I had the deepest urge to try on swimsuits, and that’s not a normal response for anyone at the end of February. We all know what it’s going to look like in the dressing room mirror, exposing thighs to the fluorescent lights when they’ve been wrapped in thermal underwear for the last five months.
I was gripped with a sense of whiplash. I felt pushed and pulled at once. I was excited to hit the slopes with my kids on Friday and also completely desperate to book a trip to the desert, and I don’t even care for the desert. The warm air was colliding with the cold air, and I worried I might have a violent reaction.
Do you ever get on Kayak around spring break and wonder who in their right mind is spending that sort of money on plane tickets to Florida? It’s not like Panama City is so great. But even though your fire was charming this morning and you still find that little patch of snow delightful, aren’t you also just dying to stick your toes in some sand? The clash has begun, my friend, and this is the real spring fever: the friction between the warm and the cold, and we’re just stuck in that front, in between hoping for an inversion—warmth’s arrival up here in the mountains—instead of a hysterical, monumental reaction—booking a flight for more than it’s worth.
I’ll let you guess the weather pattern we followed over here, and leave you with a hot tip: Old Navy has a designated Spring Break Shop.