Monday, April 13, 2009

Primavera

I love this time of year. Here’s why: today at lunch I rode my mountain bike in near perfect conditions. Friday--thanks to Theresa--Rachel and I met UTRider at Deer Valley for a wonderful day of skiing. The day before that, I was in knee-deep powder, and two days before that, I was racing the crit at RMR.

Springtime makes me think of that Monty Python song about Finland, except that it’s springtime instead of Finland that has it all.

There’s just one problem. For such a lovely season, spring sure got saddled with a crappy name. I mean, is “spring” really the best that we as English speakers could come up with? Its homonym is a rusty part found on the undercarriage of a car.

Compared with Spanish or Italian, the loveliest and romantic of languages (no apologies to French and Francophiles, though I’m sure YOU think you deserve one), we really botched this one. In English, we have “spring.” In Italian or Spanish, they have “primavera.” I’m sure it’s no accident that these two languages share such a pleasant word for the most perfect season of the year.

Even compared with other seasons, spring got the short end of the naming stick. “Summer” has countless people and even more songs that include its name. My daughter has a friend named “Autumn,” who is a lovely girl with a name to match. “Winter” is less pretty and somewhat more austere, but that’s fitting for the season. And then there’s “spring.” Lame.

Spring reminds me of when I was in grad school and my wife worked in the admissions office. Many of the applicants from Asia would give themselves a Western name, I guess to make it easier to remember, which it often was, but for the wrong reason. I’ll never forget a certain young lady from China, whose given name was quite pretty, even to an ignorant Westerner with no clue what it meant. I am at a loss, however, to remember what the Chinese name was, because the Western name she chose for herself was “Faustina.” Yeah, spring is kinda like that.

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