constellations #36, guest star: love letter to spring

Hi again. Today’s constellations is a “guest star” edition, in which I hand the mic over to someone I love. Previous guest stars have included the poet and artist Madeline Zappala and vintage clothing genius Sean Hagerty. Today’s missive comes from my dear friend and colleague Elle Mannion, a true-blue Capricorn and friend of all dogs. I am lucky enough to have shared 100+ miles of morning runs with Elle over the past year; in addition to being a seriously inspiring presence on the track/road/everywhere, she’s a wonderful writer and thinker and I have been quietly insisting that she write for constellations for a little while now. Grateful to get to share that with you today! xo, M

This past Saturday, March 20, was the vernal equinox aka the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. According to space dot com (a real website), the equinox occurs “when both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres equally face the sun and all parts of the world have the sun above the horizon for exactly 12 hours, and below the horizon for exactly 12 hours.” I thought it would be fitting to write about this astrological phenomenon in a newsletter called constellations. 

I grew up in the midwest where it isn’t uncommon to expect snow in May, just days before June’s humidity sets in. (People in Wisconsin love to joke that spring lasts approximately two days.) So my first months-spanning D.C. spring seemed to sweep me off my feet. I was thrilled to move to a city that gets as excited about flowers as I do. 

Spring feels like a refresh. Flora and fauna alike shaking off winter blues, embracing April showers, reveling in May flowers. Everything becomes so green. Polka dot petals sprinkle the sidewalk. Each evening’s pastel sunset prevails a little longer than the last. 

I made a playlist as a love letter to spring, the most underrated season in my opinion. Of the seasons between the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, summer seems to get all the hype (Songs of the Summer, summer vacation and all that). But with the hot and sticky comes summertime sadness. If summer’s a never-ending Sunday afternoon, spring is a Saturday morning, full of possibility and anticipation for the weekend ahead. And as it seems to be the case with so many things, that anticipation often ends up being the best part. This playlist is about that flirtation — edging on the cusp of summer, teasing warm weather.

The playlist eases into the season; get your spring sea legs back with Ratboys’ longing “Go Outside” (“I wanna go outside again / I wanna sit back with the windows down and breathe it all in”). It moves into the literal with Perfume Genius' hopeful “Without You” (“at least I’ll have the spring!”). There’s a healthy dose of songs to celebrate simply making it through another winter (Sheryl Crow, Simon & Garfunkel, Tasha). The playlist ends with some songs to dance to while spring cleaning (Carly Rae Jepsen, Remi Wolf, Leikeli47). Admittedly this playlist is a little all-over-the-place. I hope there’s something in it for you.

A few closing notes on spring:

  • “The magnolia blooms are so beautiful, the flowers are like fish in a tree. Sometimes do you ever get jealous of the plants, that they only have to grow and not know about it, and they don’t take anything personally?” Jenny Slate, Little Weirds

  • It’s the greening of the trees that really gets to me” 

  • I read in another newsletter “a lot of citrus are on season during winter or end of autumn, exactly when we need all their vitamins the most because we lack of sunlight. It makes you feel like nothing can go wrong because nature is on your side, universe is on your side.” How nice is that? I think spring is another reminder that the universe is on our side, even if just for a little while. 

  • A new-to-me word: Hanafubuki: a moment of cherry petals swirling in the breeze; a blizzard of flowers. (Plus, five more Japanese words on cherry blossoms with no English equivalents.)

  • Back to the anticipation being better than the real thing, “my love for nature is like my love for most things: fickle & theoretical.”

Thanks to Marissa for letting me share with you. If you want to tell me your favorite flowers or songs of the season, I’d really love to know.

To a season to blossom and grow,