Archived Story

Despite the weather, springtime arrives

Published 9:40am Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tales from Exit 22, by Al Batt

What do you call an old snowman?


The sun came back from Florida. The snowman in front of the Lutheran Church melted. The pastor said the man of snow had gone to a colder place.

There is no need to call the calendar repairman. The first day of spring is seldom the first spring day.

Spring is when the feeling comes back into our fingers and toes.

We spring ahead. A bit of silliness. That springing ahead takes so much out of us that by autumn, we need to fall back. Just think what we could have accomplished if we had that hour back.

Spring is when last year’s mosquito bites have almost healed. It’s when a tornado drill is canceled due to a snowstorm. When we have to decide whether to say “wet enough for you?” or “we need the rain.” When we lose weight by putting away our winter clothing. Spring catches us with too much or not enough coat. Spring is when we go outside to see how fat our neighbors have become. When dandelions prove that you can have too much of a good thing. The fortunate among us learn that’s easier to enjoy life if we remember that the dandelion is a flower.

Maple trees get runny noses. Farmers rush to install the corn. Onion snow falls. It’s a light dusting of snow that falls after the onions have been planted.

There is little music so sweet as that of rain falling on the shingles — as long as the roof doesn’t leak.

Tom Lehrer sang, “Spring is here, spring is here. Life is skittles and life is beer. I think the loveliest time of the year is the spring. I do, don’t you? Of course, you do.”

The sky holds its limits of birds. Dorothy Parker wasn’t as appreciative of spring as I am. She said, “Every year, back comes Spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants.”

When a flat farm field is 90 percent free of snow cover, robins and red-winged blackbirds return. Two weeks later, the frost comes out of the ground. A vesper sparrow sings, “Here, here, there, there, everybody down the hill.”

A robin chirps, “Cheerily, cheerio, cheer up!” Or is it “Cheerily, cheer up, cheerio!” If a bird that is about to have a breakfast of worms begins his day with a song, why shouldn’t we?

John S. Crosbie wrote, “If the spring bird cries before the last snow melts, you’re in for a big sap rise.”

Folklore tells us that it’s bad luck to swat the first mosquito you see each year. That if we plant tomatoes while we are wearing a football helmet and a toga before sunrise on the 12th day of May, the tomatoes will be free of bugs.

In May, we go from having the lowest number of deer to having the highest population.

Spring is when “chewing the fat” involves biting insects. We could watch a mosquito wrestle a turkey to the ground.

I read a book titled “Wicked Bugs” by Amy Stewart. Here is a snapshot, “Mosquitoes are attracted to their hosts by carbon dioxide, lactic acid and octenol, components found in human sweat and breath. They also sense heat and humidity around a body. They like dark colors, and they seem to be drawn to people who have been exercising. A French research team recently discovered that mosquitoes are more attracted to beer drinkers. In Rangoon, Myanmar, residents can get as many as 80,000 bites per year. In northern Canada, when mosquito populations are high, people can get bitten as many as 280 to 300 times per minute. At this rate, it would take only 90 minutes to drain half the blood from a human body.”

The start of spring is vernal, not always verdant. Spring has not yet unfurled. A bee asks, “Hey, bud, when do you open?”

Then things grow as nothing had grown before. We try to keep up with the weeds and drool over the rhubarb. Grass grows so that only the bravest of lawn mowers dare battle it. I love you mower today than yesterday, but not as mulch as tomorrow. I enjoy lawn care except for the part where I’m supposed to care.

The temperatures go up and the temperatures go down. We suffer from weather whiplash.

Spring is our screensaver.

Spring is here. It could be worse.

It has just been so.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Thursday.