Spring is a needed releaf to the treesPublished 9:05am Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Column: Tales from Exit 22
Winter holds us in a loose grip.
Spring is just around the corner. Unfortunately, the world is round.
Spring is when the question becomes, “Is it hot and/or cold enough for you?”
When winter slumbers while wearing spring’s face, it’s time to return the borrowed snow shovel. Don’t do it too soon. That could anger Old Man Winter. Many things do. He’s like that grumpy old man who finds joy in screaming at kids, “Hey! Get off my lawn!”
We spring ahead. A needless endeavor. Spring comes no matter what we do to a clock. My neighbor Pete Moss is opposed to Daylight Saving Time. He claims that his garden gets too much light now. Another neighbor, Carl Snarl, loves the peace and quiet of country living. If only those noisy birds would shut up. Carl watches the clock at work so intently that he has to set his eyes ahead an hour in the spring and back an hour in the fall.
When spring has sprung, we get spring fever — or it might just be the flu. The forecast from the Aged Agricultural Engineer’s Almanac for spring is that it will be wet, cold, windy, dry, hot and still. Spring is the other side of winter. Spring can be that guy you’d enjoy having a cup of coffee with or that persistent telemarketer who always calls at mealtime. It will clear up cloudy with a dry drizzle. It will be still and clear — still raining and clear up to my waist. Bowling-ball sized hailstones may be poised to flatten Mount Rushmore, but it doesn’t matter as long as spring pulls the covers off winter.
Some folks do a bit of spring cleaning. Some put it off until fall for time management reasons. Some put it off forever for no good reason.
Folklore compelled my grandfather to plant potatoes on Good Friday, even if he had to shovel snow to do so. Folklore says that at noon on the day of the spring (vernal) equinox, it’s possible to balance an egg on end, but it’s just as easy to do that on any other day of the year. If you were standing on the equator during an equinox, you would see the sun pass directly overhead. That would be cool to see, but you’d be late getting to work.
Spring is when the fish houses disappear from the ice and the landscape becomes as soggy as chewed sugar. My home becomes the little moss on the prairie.
A harbinger of spring isn’t the sight of a robin. We have many robins that winter here. Hearing the song of a robin is a harbinger of spring. My mother claimed that a returning robin needed three snows on its tail before it was truly spring. The frost is out of the ground when you hear the first frogs of spring and when there are pocket gopher mounds.
Spring begins in March. April brings the showers. When it poured, my mother backed her car out of the garage to get a free car wash from Mother Nature. I recall sitting outside with my wife, The Queen B. We were staring at clouds. One looked like a sheep. Most of them looked like sheep. Another resembled a mountain. Before I could say that one looked like a rain cloud, we were soaked. April has been called the cruelest month. It’s not because the Easter Bunny leaves those little chocolates on the trail. It’s because April waits for us in the parking lot and smacks us around after March has marched on. Spring causes me to think of doughnuts. As T.S. Eliot said, “April is the cruller month.”
Leaves act as stop and go lights. Green in the spring means, “go.” The snow goes and the dandelions grow. My neighbor Still Bill, who makes more dust than miles, has to cut his grass to find his lawn mower.
Farmers stir from their winter lethargy when the photoperiod tells them that it’s time to rearrange the dirt. They experience mud, sweat and tears.
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “For still there are so many things I have never seen. In every wood in every spring there is a different green.”
While I listened to the taps of meltwater, I was pleased the rumors that the weather bureau had eliminated spring in a cost-cutting move had proved to be false.
I love spring. I’m not alone. It’s a releaf to the trees.
Time rides our rear bumper even when we’re speeding.
It might as well be spring.
Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.