Spring Is Here

A Celebration Of Springtime in Appalachia

Posted by Catherine Seiberling Pond on March 28, 2024

Kentucky farmwife and author Catherine S. Pond shares the poetic glory of springtime in the South in words and photographs from her family farm in south-central Kentucky.

Springtime in Appalachia is prolonged, glorious and often breathtaking. Appalachia extends up from the south-central United States to New England like an old tumbling wall: spring travels along it from south to north, ever so varied as it goes. 

When Daniel Boone described Kentucky as "a second paradise," he was likely referring to its cool green hollers, hillsides laced with redbud and dogwood and the emergent flora in the wooded landscape. 


Two centuries later, in his expansive chords and melodic tributes to mountain folk music, Aaron Copland wrote "Appalachian Spring" as a virtuoso ballet suite which is homage to both the subtleties and the richness of the season here.

I can only hope Copland spent a few weeks in Kentucky––rising early in the morning, hearing the bird song and watching the landscape transform around him like a veil lifted. 

O Appalachian Spring! I gained the ledge;

Steep, inaccessible smile that eastward bends

And northward reaches in that violet wedge

Of Adirondacks!  

~ Hart Crane, "The Bridge"


In south-central Kentucky, we are often blessed with early springs, and this year is no exception.

Like the plants, I tend to bloom in the spring. I want to be out kicking around, visiting and outside (especially in these lovely more temperate months before it gets too hot).

I have a very different temperament in the spring and summer and have learned to go with it. Part of me needs to hermit up in the winter, and part of me needs this great stretch of weather and the warmer, sunnier months ahead.

In Kentucky, it's like we go from drab brown to glorious technicolor in a matter of a few weeks. The months of March-May are also times, as a few months in the fall, when we can often have the heat off and windows wide open!

It occurred to me recently, as the sun filtered into our living room about a half hour after rising, where it lingers for a while at window level, that the light here is the same in late March as it is in late September. Only it is a much warmer, more promising light.

In the first weeks of fall, the sun also stretches its fingers across the living room, and about twelve hours later, it blinds us in our sitting room on the west side of our small cottage.


My amateur astronomer father would have been slightly distressed to know that it took me over sixty years to understand that "Equinox" means "equal night" in Latin. [I even took one year of Latin in college...]. So, of course, it is!

On our farm in Kentucky, where spring is truly spring (and not covered by a blanket of snow), the Spring Equinox awakens so much: there are new calves, red buds bursting, bulbs emerging, grass greening, wildflowers starting, and rhubarb and strawberries to look forward to in early May!

The fields are usually dry enough to walk around without worrying about tamping down the hay (or ticks and chiggers to bite us).

Our Kentucky spring spans from March to May, for the most part, and by Memorial Day, it starts to get hot and humid. It is a wonderful, hopeful time in our year.

There are gardens to dream about and to start planting and a few months where we can actually have the heat and the air-conditioning off for much of the time.

I wash all of our quilts and small area rugs and hang them on the line.

I was so excited about gardening that the other day, I stopped at a few trusted garden centers to see if they had any Pansies, Johnny Jump-Ups, and Sweet Alyssum. Three bursting flats later, I’ll be planting them in pots and window boxes in the weekend ahead when it will be a bit warmer and in a waxing planting moon for flowers.

Pansies and sweet alyssum are hardy, carry-over flowers and don’t mind a bit of frost or colder nights. Alyssum has a lovely fragrance while you can press the pansies or use them as edible garnishes (they look beautiful on lemon squares and cake).

By early June, as they don’t like much heat, I replace them with nasturtiums while keeping the sweet alyssum which lasts until mid-autumn.


“There was only—spring itself; the throb of it, the light restlessness, the vital essence of it everywhere: in the sky, in the swift clouds, in the pale sunshine, and in the warm, high wind—rising suddenly, sinking suddenly, impulsive and playful like a big puppy that pawed you and then lay down to be petted. If I had been tossed down blindfolded on that red prairie, I should have known that it was spring.”  

—Willa Cather, My Ántonia

Springtime in Kentucky, or anywhere, is a reminder of why we are here on this Earth, why every spring — this now being our seventeenth full spring season here — counters any bleakness in the world.

No matter what is happening, for a few months each year, there will be waxing light, emergent color, awakening bird song and new life everywhere.

Everything has its season under Heaven, and everything lives again.

Above all, Spring reminds us of the little blessings along the way.

A farm in the country is a great place to find them — in every day and in every season — and to realize that Nature, above all, persists.

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Catherine Seiberling Pond

Catherine Seiberling Pond writes about home, place, and rural life from her Kentucky ridge farm where her family moved from New England in 2008. She is also marketing coordinator (remote and on site) for the National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska and says the combination of vocations and locales is the best of all rural worlds. Find more at CatherinePond.com.

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