UPDATE: After writing this, actually stuck my head out, picked up child from kindergarten, walked around. Very nice -- and even some tender green leaves. It's been warmer than last year.
I'm homesick for the other continent this time of year. These are, as far as I'm concerned, the worst times to be outdoors in Estonia. Much of the open low country is still waterlogged, to say nothing of riverside trails. The trees are bare. The cities are dusty and drab. Until recently, there was so much sand in the air that sometimes, when the yellowish wind blows by an example of socialist architecture just right, Tallinn looks like an African provincial city on the edge of the sahel.
Despite the sun beating down day after day since Monday, early spring drags on and on in Estonia. Like a primitive worrying that the sun won't rise tomorrow, this time of year always seems like touch and go for me, that this might be the year that spring doesn't take root at all -- that seedlings will go into shock from the sudden sunlight. Then add the realization that in less than two months, the days will start getting shorter.
Like flora, cafes around Tallinn seem to operate entirely by the sun, not temperature or calendar. They're quick to enter vegetative growth. Overnight, the outdoor tables come out, and people sit down and start vegetating, even though the mercury may still read 8 or 9 degrees C. If only plants were the same way.
At our Estonian sets of parents and in-laws, it is possible to enjoy temperatures of up to 20-- their backyards and the silikaat and white siding of neighbouring houses seem to catch and concentrate the sun.
Still, for me, this is a time to be anywhere else -- in the south of Europe, or skiing in Sapmi.
Last year in May I took a bicycle ride to Aegviidu and there was still nothing on the trees. Aegviidu is a little bit of an energy centre, but it was a gruelling trip against a headwind and a dun landscape past limestone quarries.
The willow shoots are developing little woody buds, but nothing feline or furry yet.
In Virginia, the air would have long been full of redbud, dogwood, and azalea and oak pollen, or at the least, the smell of last year's unraked oak, tulip poplar and maple leaves matted around the old home place. A breeze coming off of the lake.
I did get a whiff, running past the Metsakalmistu the other day, of pine sap roasting in the sun, but it only made me think of 7000 ft lodgepole forest in the West and I longed to be climbing higher into the Christmas-tree fragrance of the high country, which of course is hard to do here.
I must say the sea looks inviting around Tallinn. The biggest visual perk to life in the capital has shaken off its sludgy green grey colour, and in the light it is dark blue like the sky through a polarizing filter, with crisp contours.