When Spring Hasn’t Sprung

Memo to spring: It’s spring.

You know … spring, as in Easter bunnies and tulips and green things.

What I know is that I am bone tired of winter. As a friend said the other day, “My winter food is still in the cupboards, but my inner reserves have been depleted.”

She’s right about that.

When fall arrives, we line our shelves with mason jars spilling with things from the harvest but no one reminds us to stock up on patience and fortitude.

I’ve always detested March. Just when I’m ready to throw myself on the first tulip that springs from my garden bed it will snow again – and it’s a mocking snow, laughing at the first day of spring as if it was running naked through a St. Patrick’s Day parade.

But there are signs that spring is coming, albeit weak and tardy.

It used to be that the first robins to fly back north was a sign of spring, but we need a new harbinger. Word is out that the robins are hanging out in the mid-Atlantic coast for most of the winter, and the ones that do fly north are coming weeks earlier than they once did. They’re keen to change their migration patterns now and then, so they’ve become a fickle sign of spring.

Some people have even advocated adopting the turkey vulture as the first sign. They seem to be a bit more dependable, but they’re definitely not as attractive as the robin.

It used to be that the first sign of spring was when baseball players showed up for training.

But even baseball players are hard to count on.

These days they’re showing up to training early. In a world of multi-million dollar contracts, they’re a bit more serious about getting to work.

A nature book says other signs of spring include seeing hazel catkins, lesser celandine, frogspawn and bluebell shoots. Who makes this stuff up? Have you ever heard of a hazel catkin or a frogspawn?

“Birds building nests” is listed as another sign of spring in my nature book, but what sort of self-respecting bird would fly back now? If you’ve got a nest in Fort Lauderdale why come back before the last snow melts? They should follow the cues of grandparents everywhere: Stay in Florida until your boat can float on the lake.

This is the time of the year I’m ready to exclude chili as a major food group and phase out the 3 p.m. dinners in the dark.

It’s the time of year I drag my summer clothes down from the attic in some sort of hallucinatory trance, and I try on sunglasses at Wal-Mart because the rack is full.

It’s an in between time when I’m looking for a little pizazz, when I want to sip something made with pineapple that sports an umbrella, when I think of flip flops and barbecues.

It’s a time when I call window washers and lawn guys in some hopeful attempt to schedule a spring that is stubborn and ornery.

Ella Fitzgerald sang “Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year.”

Sing it, Ella. Someone’s got to sing around here.

This morning, I stood in the front hall trying to decide between snow boots or rain boots, a sure sign that spring is coming. And I’m not wearing long underwear, and I’m not making something that involves a crock-pot for dinner.

Sure signs of spring.

The truth is, I’m heading to Florida in another week to visit my daughter. I will have never been so happy in my life to land in a place where the sun is shining and no one is wearing a coat.

I’m going right to the beach to dip my feet in the sand and to thaw out in a spot that can gather up six months of my restlessness and lethargy and cast it all to the trade winds heading for the tropics.

And I’m not coming back until the robins fly north.

It’s been a long one, my friends. It’s been the winter of our discontent. But we are hardier, better folks for our endurance, full of patience and awash in hope.

If that doesn’t make you feel better, you can meet in Florida.

I’ll be the half-clad woman under the palm tree with an umbrella in my drink. Sometimes, hope is something you can get on a plane and fly to.