As a boy, getting a new box of Crayola crayons was a big event. Getting an eight-crayon box brought limited appreciation; it was usually part of the back-to-school supplies Mom bought for me in late August, and though I appreciated getting new crayons, the reminder that summer would soon be over was never a thrill. The real excitement came when, on a special occasion, someone would present me with a large box of 64 crayons.
To a kid in my era, getting a 64 crayon box was like winning the lottery. The box was carefully carried to a private place, usually your room, and opened with care. The perforated seal on the box lid was carefully separated to avoid ripping the cardboard. The lid was folded back slowly, and a unique new crayon smell would be released and deeply inhaled. Inside the box, each crayon, with its uniform clipped point, was, arranged with its color family, in a neat row, and each row was slightly higher than the one in front of it.
After opening a new crayon box I would carefully examine the unusual colors, removing each one individually, and carefully replacing it in its designated place. The one color that was a mystery for me was a crayon labeled “Spring Green”. Colors are hard to explain, but I recall that Spring Green was a fresh, minty green color with a touch of yellow. I found it intriguing because living in South Florida, I couldn’t recall experiencing anything in the real world with the same color as Spring Green.
Pretty soon, those uniform-tipped crayons would take on different shapes as they were used with different frequency. Some of the crayon tips would become rounded and favorites would be worn down so far that the paper had to be carefully torn away to reveal more of the crayon. Then, invariably, my younger sister Bonnie would discover my carefully hidden box of crayons, and while I was away, she would play with them, predictably breaking a few and wearing the tips of others flat from pressing them hard while she colored. From then on, the “new” crayons lost their mystique and eventually were relegated to the big round metal box with all the other old and broken crayons. Finally, the day would come when I would get another new box of crayons and the mystery of Spring Green would be renewed.
Years later I moved to New Jersey. One day in late April or early May, new leaves magically appeared on the winter-brown branches of the trees. Suddenly, I had a revelation – the new leaves matched the color Spring Green. At last the mystery was solved. Now, each year, I look forward to new leaves emerging from the trees in a special, fresh, minty green color with a touch of yellow. They convey the promise of summer, even if a month or more of chilly weather is in my future. Every time I see the new, Spring Green leaves I recall the thrill of getting a new box of crayons and marvel at the magic of my favorite color.
This year I am looking forward to Spring Green appearing any day now. Spring Green has a short season. You can only see it for a day or so, until the leaves on the trees mature and take on a deeper green hue. Any day now, my memory of the simple thrill of a new box of crayons will be renewed, bringing back the memories of what it was like being a boy and facing a seemingly endless summer.
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© 2012 Henry Bassman; all rights reserved