Al Batt: You know spring has sprung when the snow has gotten warmer

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

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Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

Spring is right around the snowbank.

Al Batt

Spring is when the snow gets warmer.

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There is no need to call the calendar repairman. Our seasons need training. Doug Larson wrote a perfect description of spring, “Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.” A couple of other illustrative quotations are “Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade,” by Charles Dickens and Henry Van Dyke’s

“The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another“ are good too.

From where I sat in the coffee shop, it sounded as if people were casting spells as they ordered complicated drinks meant to challenge the most brilliant barista.

I was addlepated, both twitterpated and besotted with spring and trying not to overspring. The weatherman said to dress for the 60s, so I wore a tie-dye T-shirt and bell-bottomed pants.

I’ve learned to be mildly cynical about spring. Spring has given too many TED Talks. Spring can be like cutting through a jungle with a machete, only without the jungle and the machete.

Winter sneaks its card into spring’s deck and had been winning until suffering a serious setback when the temperature hit 88°.

I drank a cup of tea as I tried to make sense of the incantations offered by people pleased to get a paper cup inscribed with their names.

Bolstered by minimal caffeine, I ventured forth to shop. I stumbled down an aisle in a nearby store, clutching a shopping list written in my childish scrawl. My wife insisted I put ketchup on my list, which rendered the list unreadable. It was somewhere between the oatmeal and the phone chargers where I found a selection of 2-slice toasters. The box a toaster comes in never carries a photo of burned toast. The images were of two slices of perfect toast that gave me false expectations. I forgot that the settings knob on a toaster is touched more often than a thermostat. Our old toaster had suffered from burnout. I visited with a woman staring at a toaster. She said her husband was so pale by the end of winter, he sunburned while waiting for his toast to pop up. I think of spring as ducks, daffodils, dragonflies, deiced lakes, drizzles and daydreams. There was the charge of the flight brigade as the birds returned because they missed me. Mosquitoes do their version of “Pest Side Story.” Skeeters hastened civilization. If it weren’t for mosquitoes, we’d all still be living outdoors.

What is seen in the middle of March and April that can’t be seen at the beginning or end of either month? The letter “R”.

Spring is when people look as if they’ve lost weight after layers of clothing have vanished. Spring is when the feeling comes back into my fingers and toes. Baseball gloves come out of hibernation. The grass grows and the rivers flow. Green is a salve to winter-weary eyes. Some smells could be the state scent. Cow manure, freshly cut hay, skunk, old socks, Vick’s VapoRub, bacon, petrichor (the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil) and lilacs. I know they aren’t all spring specific, but they all smell.

What does snow become after it melts? Spring. One day, we had snowmen, the next day we had a bumper crop of potholes. When I was a boy, there were enough potholes on the roads that riding on a school bus was like bouncing on a cruel trampoline. According to the National Pothole Rules Committee, it’s not a pothole if you can’t park a car in it. Potholes are big enough that you have to start aiming a mile away to miss one. One pothole will be used as a public pool until it dries up and becomes a sports arena.

It’s spring when I find my mittens.

The Ides of April (April 13) hadn’t long passed when it snowed, turning everything white, but if I complained about unseasonable weather, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else. I quickly re-lost my mittens. April snow is a slapstick comedy without the comedy.

It’s Mother Nature’s idea of burned toast.

Al Batt’s column appears in the Tribune every Wednesday.