Azalea Park (copy) (copy)

Azalea blooms are starting to become full at Summerville's Azalea Park. Brad Nettles/Staff

The sights and sounds of spring in the Lowcountry are met each year with a great deal of expectation.

It’s not like we’ve been unable to venture outdoors for the last four months. Winters here are typically cold and wet but seldom ultra frigid.

As spring arrives, it brings new colors, fresh growth and changes in attitude in this popular latitude.

Spring also provides a chance to roll down the window, go for a drive and appreciate the surroundings bursting with life.

After living here for nearly 55 years, I definitely can cite you chapter and verse as it relates to the smells and sounds of spring. It’s just one more reason to be thankful this is home.

Sounds of the season

Chirping birds and their songs that seem to welcome the rising sun certainly are worthy of mention. It can sometimes feel like a personal serenade in your own backyard that signals the start of another day.

I’m hardly a bird-watcher and definitely don’t know the difference between a crow and a blackbird — are they the same? But I know enough to appreciate how a cardinal, or Carolina wren, or a blue jay can brighten up a day. In their own small way, their chirps and cheeps indicate everything’s gonna be OK.

I’m pretty sure there’s one particular mocking bird that raises a little racket some afternoons, but to tell you the truth, he could actually be something else so I guess I shouldn’t call him out and disparage the entire family.

But there are plenty of other sounds that tell me spring has sprung.

Lawn mowers seem to have come out of hibernation in the last week or so. And the whir of weed-whackers are attacking unwanted growth.

This time of year, if you pass a church, you’re apt to hear the gentle flapping of a purple cloth draped over a wooden cross.

If you’re near certain marshes, the mating call of an alligator produces an unforgettable growl that is a guttural and beastly signal that the gator is nearby and means business. 

A senses taker

There are also certain smells that make us appreciate that a new season is here. Fresh-cut grass seems to make me feel young again. Is it merely the smell, or just remembering how itchy your back would get from rolling around in it as a child?

Take a drive to Wadmalaw or Johns Island to smell the fresh, rich, black dirt that produces tomatoes and strawberries.

You can’t possibly eat in every top-notch restaurant in Charleston, but if you walk down King or East Bay streets at certain hours, just getting a whiff of what’s cooking will make your mouth water.

There’s a portion of Anson Street that has Confederate jasmine growing up and over the iron fencing. The smell is intoxicating.

Tourists come by thousands to see our city’s history and enjoy our hospitality. But they won’t necessarily hear what I just told you that makes this place so wonderful this time of year.

OK, so we all have to wash the pollen off our cars three or four times a week and yes, there are the minor inconveniences of stopped-up nostrils and sinus infections.

For the most part, though, spring is there for all of us to enjoy. To do it — it just takes some slowing down, so that your ears and eyes and noses can take it all in.

Reach Warren at

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