Seasons Magazines

Seasons Magazines

The Sounds of Spring

By Matthew Dicks  /  Illustrated By Sean Wang 


It feels like years since I’ve last slid this small latch to the left. Years since I had to wander through the first floor of my home at night, checking to make sure the windows were all locked. They’ve been locked for months. Locked and shut ever since winter arrived with its cold, raw air, indignant wind and too infrequent snowstorms.

But at last, the first real day of spring has arrived. The ground is still muddy and wet. The trees are still bare. Snow is still piled in dirty heaps in parking lots. But the cold air has exited stage right, replaced by warm, fresh spring air. The thermometer has risen above 60 degrees for the first time since that disturbing, record-setting day in February and those two teaser days in March.

It’s mid-April. Spring has officially arrived. It’s time to open the windows again and let the fresh air inside. Goodbye, lingering winter viruses and Christmas tree particulates.

I’m so excited.

It’s not easy to raise the sash. Clement Moore may have “flown open the sash” on Christmas Eve when Saint Nick arrived, but after a sturdy New England winter, it takes some muscle. But slowly, reluctantly, it moves, then slides and finally opens, throwing fresh air into my home at last.

I turn to open the next when I hear it, and I can’t believe it. How is it even possible?

It’s a leaf blower.

Across the street, my neighbor is clearing the leaves that he failed to clear back in October. The high-pitched scream—a sound that has been blessedly absent from my life for almost 6 months—is back, invading the peace and solace of this spring morning.  At least he doesn’t have many leaves. A sad little sapling and a leaning maple from the neighbor’s yard will make short work of this chore.

I can wait him out.

I move to the side of the house. I open the kitchen window. I hear it before I’ve even managed to open it completely.

Steely Dan. My neighbor is standing in front of his car. The hood is up. His toolbox is sitting beside him. And he’s playing Steely Dan.

Steely Dan. Music for people who hate all things that sound good and right in this world. Steely Dan, blasting away in my neighbor’s driveway but now also blasting away in my kitchen, making even my wife’s homemade chocolate chip cookies look sad and lifeless.

I can’t believe it.

Then I hear a scream. Not a horror movie scream. Not the scream of a mother who has just witnessed aliens abducting her son. Not the screams of a person with good musical taste being forced to attend a Steely Dan concert. It’s a child’s scream. The senseless scream of a child running around outside, absent any discernible thought or purpose, just screaming his head off because he is young and loud and annoying. A moment later, he’s joined by two more screaming kids. All three children are perfectly happy and content, yet scream they must as they flock through the neighborhood like starlings, bobbing and weaving and sprinting in synchronous stupidity.

Then a dog barks. Probably for no reason other than it’s a dog, unless it, too, hates Steely Dan and is barking in protest. At least I could get behind that. But probably not. The dog barks because a squirrel scurries across the lawn or a postal carrier walks up the block or a puff of wind puffs. The dog, almost as frustrating as the children, is making needless noise on this lovely spring morning.

I hang my head and sigh, not because of the noise that has stolen this moment from me, but for the many terrible moments that I am reminded will soon come. The endless droning of lawnmowers. The cacophony of a neighbor’s cookout. The wailing sirens of police cars and ambulances. The low whine of airplanes flying above. The beat of drums from the nearby football field. Fourth of July fireworks. Fifth of July fireworks. Eighth of August fireworks. Thumping, indiscernible music blaring from passing cars. Men on motorcycles so desperate for attention while compensating for so little that they have converted their once reasonably sounding vehicles into roaring, head-turning juvenile monstrosities.

A window is a hole in a wall that looks out onto the world. An open window is a hole in a wall that brings so much of the outdoors inside.

Fresh air is lovely, but the sounds that accompany that fresh air are not. I’m happy for spring’s arrival. Happy to return to green grass and bright flowers and poorly played golf. Just let me get my headphones first. 


Matthew Dicks is an elementary school teacher, bestselling novelist and a record 55-time Moth Story SLAM champion. His latest books are Twenty-one Truths About Love and The Other Mother.


Sean Wang, an MIT architecture graduate, is author of the sci-fi graphic novel series, Runners. Learn more at