The Rites of Spring
I’m sure there are people who love summer, fall or winter the most, but I for one am a huge fan of spring. I find all of the seasons a welcome change, but spring for me is special. It’s almost as if the Earth’s batteries have been recharged. The birds have made the long commute north and begin to chirp in the tress, while flowers and buds seem to pop out everywhere. Mother Nature is at her loveliest, as she fulfills her promise of renewal and rebirth.
I’m always grateful at this time of the year that I can experience the sounds of winter ending and spring beginning. Thanks to the hearing technology I wear, I can even hear the subtle drip, drip, drip of icicles melting outside my window and the trickle of water running down the street from a pile of melting snow. But perhaps best of all, I can hear the birds signaling the new season with their melodies. If ever I had to give up my hearing aids—and that be would a huge fight—it would not be in spring. Unfortunately, not everyone with hearing loss realizes all they’re missing. But more about that later.
While setting my clocks ahead a few weeks ago, I began to think about past springs and the many rituals my family observed. I remember my sister and I trying to balance an egg on its end on the first day of spring. Because that date is also the vernal equinox—both night and day are 12 hours long—superstition has it that gravity shifts between the sun and the Earth, making the feat a bit easier. I don’t think we ever succeeded, but we tried each year, nevertheless.
When it got warm enough, we finally opened the windows, and when the forsythia in our backyard bloomed, we brought branches into the house. My father always brought a bouquet of daffodils for my mother and pussy willows for my sister and me. He’d start his tomato and pepper seedlings in the sunniest window in the house, which he eventually planted in his garden. And, he helped us make and fly our very own kites, which we customized with an abundance of crayons, glue and glitter.
My mother was busy doing a complete top-to-bottom spring house cleaning. After she washed every window, she would put up light-weight curtains that fluttered happily when the breeze blew. Every bed got a clean, bright cotton bedspread, and the heavy winter throw on the back of the sofa got packed away.
Then of course there was the big day: Easter Sunday. Long before our parents were out of bed, we scoured the backyard for eggs the Bunny had hidden, and we’d take inventory of our baskets, which were teeming with chocolate eggs, jellybeans and bright yellow Peeps.
After church my mother served a luscious Easter dinner for the entire family. I remember feeling sad for my uncle who had severe hearing loss. As we all laughed and talked and hailed the start of spring, he would sit silently, occasionally nodding and smiling if someone directly addressed him. It was obvious he couldn’t hear most of what was happening. He refused to get hearing aids, for reasons unbeknownst even to his wife. Besides not being able to interact with his family, he wasn’t hearing the many glorious sounds of the season. Sadly, he never did get help.
As a longtime hearing-aid wearer, I strongly encourage anyone with hearing loss, no matter how slight, to get hearing instruments. They are small, almost invisible, and you can easily adjust them to decrease background noise in a variety of environments. There are models to fit every budget and every lifestyle. The hearing aids that are fit at Audiology Services know the difference between speech and noise. This allows people who struggle to understand speech in complex listening situations, like restaurants and crowds, to understand what their communication partner is saying.
Individuals who struggle to understand speech in noise often report increased stress and fatigue. That’s because when hearing loss is left untreated, the brain has to work much harder. However, with hearing aids people notice an increase in speech intelligibility and a decrease in overall listening effort.
So don’t be like my uncle; don’t miss out on the many wonderful sounds of life.
BTW, egg balancing is possible any day of the year with the right egg and a little patience. To balance an egg yourself, look for one that’s not completely smooth and try to balance it on a rough surface