Steamboat Springs As the last few flurries of snow descend upon the streets, the first day of spring slithers its way into an abyss of still snow-covered forests refraining winter from shedding its skin.
As the blood starts to heat up for residents in Steamboat, spring may wiggle its way right back into the hole from which it came for a little bit anyway. But however long the snow remains, temperatures are rising, the land is heating up and face it snow season is coming to an end.
And as March 20 and purple daffodils mark the beginning of bathing suit season and of hope, it also defines the day within a year that night and day are of equal length in time on all parts of the Earthvernal equinox. Vernal meaning "of spring," equinox meaning "equal nights."
With the slight tilt of the Earth toward the sun, the Northern Hemisphere is blessed to bathe in the beauty of Mother Nature's warmth.
Spring has an origin in every religion, every ethnicity and culture. Whether it is the time of year that signifies Persephone's return to her mother, Demeter, the goddess of Earth and agriculture in Greek mythology, or the time when the Celtic sun god was released from its constraints to bring sunlight to the people in Britain, Mother Nature promises that spring is coming.
Sandy Schwindy, certified travel counselor at Carlson Wagonlit Travel, said during January, February and March phones are ringing off the hook with calls about travel to Mexico, Hawaii and Europeanywhere temperatures are above 60 degrees.
Both local and seasonal residents have given themselves more than enough time because they know if they booked flights and vacations now, availability would be slim, Schwindy said.
"They've been planning this for months. The dead of winter makes them want to get out of town," Schwindy said. "Many say, 'I want to go out of town and I want to go as soon as the mountain closes.'"
Schwindy said before going back to their native land, the influx of foreign seasonal residents express an interest in going on another adventure.
"Many foreign employees ... they want to do a little exploring ... to Mexico, Hawaii, California," Schwindy said.
While Mexico was the most popular destination last year, Schwindy said trips to Europe, cruises and Disney vacations seem to be the best-selling.
Being on a cruise and looking out at the never-ending ocean that melts the land from the turquoise shallow depths to the dark deep blue may seem like paradise, but for many staying here in Steamboat during mud season, it's a time to sow the first seeds of plant life.
However, Bob Enever, president of the Yampa Valley Botanic Park Association, said not many seeds are planted because of the short summer season.
"We only get 60 days without a killing frost," Enever said. "We can't plant anything until June. It's a risky business. If we don't get them planted by then, we're damned if we do and dammed if we don't."
While the Botanic Garden is killing time ordering and buying plants until the snow melts, new plans for the year are in order.
Row after row of native plants of the Yampa Valley will line the Botanic Garden in penstennons and waterwise gardens, among others. A double helix wind sculpture 16-feet high will stand in the garden along with boxes for a raised rose garden.
"Our long term objective is to have in the garden, native plants of the Yampa Valley," Enever said of the different plants that grow between elevations of 4,000 and 12,000 feet.
So, while the various gardens may not quickly rise from the Earth, and flowers may not sprout to their colorful potential in a couple weeks, within a couple months the hot summer air will be exhaustive and spring's freshness will become old. Just as nature's greenest hue is the hardest to hold, soon we will see that nothing gold can stay.