Monday, April 13, 2015

It's Spring, and the Flowers Ain't the Only Things Blossoming

We've just finished an absolutely gorgeous weekend here in NoVa, with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. In DC, the famous cherry blossoms came out in all their glory* ...

... flowers are blooming everywhere you look, and - of course - pollen is arriving in all its miserable, yellowish-brown glory.

Spring has sprung, as the saying goes. And as Alfred, Lord Tennyson reminds us**,

"In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love."

But why is that?

I call your attention, Dear Readers, to this brief but interesting article by Lisa Bonos: "Spring Has Sprung, So Does Science Say Love Is in the Air?". Ms Boros interviewed a number of smart people on the subject of why love seems to blossom in the Spring, and one of them - Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist who is the Chief Scientific Officer for - told her that,

"... the pineal gland - which makes melatonin - is very active in the winter, making people sleepy and potentially less awake to romantic potential."

“In the spring, as light hits the retina (Ms Fisher told Ms Boros) it goes 'into the pineal gland and slows the production of melatonin. And that’s what gives you that light spring in your step, the feeling of giddiness and euphoria … As the melatonin recedes and the light begins to affect the brain, there’s every reason to think that people will simply be more attractive as partners.'”

Ms Fisher went on to discuss how we humans tend to be excited by the sights, sounds and smells of spring - the scent of flowers in the air, outdoor barbecues fired up, and even the perfumes and aftershave lotions applied to more exposed skin areas. What we perceive as the emotion of love is associated with the dopamine system, which can be stimulated by novelty, giving us a gentle nudge toward falling in love.

So now you have the more-or-less scientific explanation for why you feel more cheerful and amorous in the Spring.  How you turn it to your advantage is up to you. Good luck!

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* This beautiful picture was taken during the weekend by my friend Rie, who does more with her iPhone camera than I can usually do with my expensive digital SLR monster.

** In his poem, "Locksley Hall."


eViL pOp TaRt said...

Less melatonin, more dopamine, that look -- It's. still a great feeling!

Linda Kay said...

Bilbo, thanks for your usual scientific approach to your post....but I'm just glad it's spring and the flowers a bloomin'. I'll be the cherry blossoms were something to behold!

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Bilbo, I was reading this and admiring this photo and thinking, "Did Bill take that?" But as I read to the end you did not. Nice photo, from her iphone no less! I'm in love and it's spring so all is right with the world. :-)

Mike said...

I cut the grass for the first time this season. Spring had sprung.

Chuck Bear said...

Spring: love, grass, and mosquitos.

allenwoodhaven said...

I love all the seasons for what they are, but Spring may be the best. After a cold winter the warmth and new growth in nature are hard to beat. True, the bugs and pollen are here too, but that's the price we pay. Every season has its pluses and minuses. I try to enjoy them all and tolerate the minuses.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

It's noteworthy that universities have a spring break, not a fall break!