Writing inspired by the SWC creative writing prompt: How do you know when Spring has sprung?
I Know Spring Has Arrived When…
By Caroline Stevenson
I know spring has arrived when my furriest coat is banished to the wardrobe. It can go find the winterland of Narnia and have adventures without me for all I care – I do not want to see it, let alone be enveloped in it, for another 9 months minimum. And even if the weather gods play an April Fool and send the temperatures plunging again, I will pack as many layers under my spring coat as necessary, just do whatever I can to convince myself that now spring has arrived, we will have an agreeable outdoor temperature and I won’t find myself shivering at a bus stop. And if winter temperatures do gate-crash spring, I simply won’t acknowledge them. I mean it can’t be that cold, look at me, I’m wearing my spring jacket. And no gloves (but thank heavens there are pockets to keep my hands warm). What is it they say about Brits? They dress for the calendar month and not for the weather.
But regardless of how many layers I may or may not have on, regardless of that annual ritual of putting your watch one hour forward every year which catches folks out every time as if they have never done it before, the unmistakeable sign of spring arriving in Vienna is when the Naschmarkt comes out of hibernation. At the height of summer, you have to elbow your way through a stampede of sun-worshippers flocking to the outdoor tables and chairs and you’re bombarded by a cacophony of conversations, cocktails and Mediterranean and middle Eastern canapés. It’ll take you half an hour to advance 30 metres through the throng – which isn’t a criticism, it’s a pastime in itself – and en route you’ll hear intimate snippets from strangers confiding to their friend about that divorce, that affair which they promise they’re going to put an end to once and for all, or the ongoing saga of that ingrown toenail, as if the general sea of noise grants them an audibility bubble, so even if they shout, only the person sharing their table will hear them.
Fast-forward to November, and the Naschmarkt is deserted. All the tables and chairs have been packed up and locked away. Just when you could do with the hustle and bustle to create an impression of warmth, all you are left with is swathes of unoccupied concrete path either side of you, with a matching grey sky above you and only some menacing-looking pigeons for company. Yes, the restaurants are still open, but even the spiciest curry won’t make you forget which season is about to take the reins. Customers and punters have regained a sense of discretion and conversations are hushed within the indoor confines. Now I’ll never get to find out if Linda did leave Marshall after all.
After a seemingly never-ending winter, I find the reappearance of the outdoor tables and chairs at Naschmarkt more uplifting and reinvigorating than the sight of the first snowdrops and crocuses budding. No prizes for guessing whether I grew up in a town or in the countryside. It’s the sight of Naschmarkt blossoming again which puts the spring back in my step.
Sunday Wrters' Club member
Portrait of Caroline courtesy of Markus Raffeis