January 16, 2009
Brilliant light streams down, blinding my eyes! It’s a helicopter with a flood-light! No, it’s a UFO! No, it’s, it’s … sunshine! Finally! January is half over, and apparently spring has arrived.
Youngsters run back and forth, laughing and shouting, as they chase their street-hockey ball up and down the driveway. A young couple is out for a walk, pushing their baby in the stroller, with the cover rolled back, and hats and scarves dumped pell-mell in the cover’s accordion rolls. I hear Timmy’s even before I see it, as folks cheerfully shout their orders into the drive-through microphone. Going inside, I’m glad there are still a couple dollars on my Christmas gift card, since the debit machines are down again. I just have to indulge in an ice-capp on this lovely mid-winter spring day!
New pointy dark green growth is excitedly poking up through bare, damp soil on south-facing garden plots, yet right across the street on north-facing lawns, thick-frosted grass and lingering piles of snow hug perpetual shadows, determined to survive this unseasonal moment of sunny warmth. Gold sprinkles on a big, brilliant red Christmas ribbon on a front door sparkle delightedly in the sunshine – a ribbon that for the past few weeks had simply been a dull red. On another door a bright beautiful Christmas wreath wrestles for attention with a nearby basket of startlingly bright beautiful flowers. Flowers? In January? Oh, plastic of course – but for a moment, in the warm sunshine, I dream they are real.
Suddenly I realize that I’ve been out walking for a good half hour with my coat unbuttoned and hanging wide open, as I sip on my nice cold ice capp! A group of young teens sit around visiting with each other on dry pavement that just a few short days ago was wrapped in a layer of icy snow. A woman is in her driveway, busily polishing her car to a brilliant shine, while down the street, the lineup at the carwash stretches out of the lot and far down the back lane.
At the beach, the sidewalks are crowded with families, couples, friends, children riding their bikes, dogs energetically pulling their owners along, and teens creating some kind of game in the sand. Seniors sit on the park benches, soaking up the warmth of the sun. At the shoreline, a dog cheerfully chases a stick thrown into the water, and then rushes out to wildly splash the icy water all over his master. The tennis courts are busy, balls flying back and forth over the nets. The lake water is calm, and clearly reflects the blue sky with its scattered skiffs of pale cloudlets. A small plane banks overhead, and sunlight catches its surface, flashing brightly. Below, a flock of ducks nap in a long line on the still water.
The city even smells of spring, as a smoky hazy drifts across it from slash-burns cleaning up dead leaves and grasses; and the scent of pine fills the air as trees are trimmed by enthusiastic gardeners, eager to get landscaping started again.
As I leave the beach, I pass lonely-looking beachfront motels, closed for the season. I am reminded that tomorrow, gray skies and snow may be back, as old man winter returns with a blast of his icy breath, but for today at least, spring has sprung!