Green beer. Green hats. The greening of the Chicago River. Dying stuff green is how we usually celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in this country.

But for me, St. Patrick’s Day is important because it means spring is here. Longer days. More light. And the real greening of the natural world. This is the time of year when crocuses start pushing up out of the snow and mud in Telluride. When daffodils bloom. And our own hearts start following suit.

The poet Robert Hass has a line about the coming of spring and the way it expands everything in your life: “and because the light will enlarge your days, your dreams at night will be as strange as the jars of octopus you saw once in a fisherman’s boat under the summer moon.” We think differently when spring comes. We see the natural world changing, and we wonder what we can change in our own lives.

The clock shifts an hour and throws everything off. We try to put young children to bed at their regular time but we just can’t; it’s still light out. And with that light, we find something in ourselves lightening. We throw open the doors and turn up the music. We dance. It’s as if the snow and darkness has pressed in on us for months. With the sudden arrival of longer days and warmer weather, we feel euphoric.

This St. Patrick’s Day was particularly significant because it’s my niece Emma’s birthday, and she flew with her family from Austin to celebrate. She turned 12 and is ecstatic because as she says, “Now I can finally fly to Telluride on my own.” Poor girl. She worships Telluride—its mountains, its skiing, its town. “You get to be here everyday,” she complains when I call her, “I’m so jealous.” To celebrate her birthday, we took advantage of the expanded day and skied the whole day from 9-5. This is the kind of skiing that’s possible in the spring.

Once upon a time, St. Patrick’s Day was significant only for Irish immigrants. But in America, it has transformed into a celebration of all things. Enjoy those longer days. And for now, enjoy that sun—we know the snow is coming soon.

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