The first color of spring

Jerry Apps
Aren't we all eager to spy a little color on these dreary first days of spring, when everything is tired and too often a dirty brown?

I saw a little yellow crocus, peaking above the clutter of brown leaves the other day. Oh, how I look for a little color on these dreary days of late winter and the first days of spring, when everything is tired and too often a dirty brown.  

All things that grow appear ready to welcome spring but they wait for warmer temperatures. The little crocus is an exception. It doesn’t wait, apparently can’t wait to show off its beautiful yellow in contrast to all the brown around it. How I welcome it. Sometimes it doesn’t even wait for the snow to melt, but is a splash of yellow with white all around it.

At home on the farm, when I was a kid, the dandelions were the first color to appear after a long winter. The snow always melted first on the south side of our farmhouse, and it was here that the dandelions appeared.

Today, these first colors of spring, are often despised, dug up, chemically destroyed—an enemy plant. As little kids, we sometimes picked them and brought them into the house and put them in a little jar for the family to enjoy.  

Soon more color appeared, apple blossoms and wild cherry blossoms. A bit later lilacs appeared—we had a row of them growing along the south side of our one-room country school one-acre plot. And then the wild violets, a hillside of them grew on a sunny opening in the woodlot to the north of the farmstead. Little bouquets of beautiful violets, a Mother’s Day present from her boys.

Nothing more welcome than the first color of spring.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Look for the first color of spring and take time to enjoy it.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to