Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In Search of Spring

This morning

A week from today is officially the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. Right. For our neck of the woods it’s more like Alaska’s Groundhog Day, only we don’t need no stinkin’ rodent. There will be six more weeks of winter.

Even after more than thirty years of the drill, this time of year drives me to distraction. I know the shift will get here when it gets here, but every year I have six weeks of antsy. My time passes more quickly if I’m out prowling around looking for signs indicating the start of breakup - that glorious event when the ice and snow start to disappear. Sometimes I can even sit still for an entire hour between forays. 

“Honey, I’m going down to the river to check things out. I’m feeling spring in the air.”

“Really? The thermometer shows just above zero. Wear your hat. Remember last year when you felt ‘spring in the air?’ You’re lucky your ears didn’t fall off when they thawed.” 

It's a scrapper, that geranium
My wife acts all superior about the situation, but in reality, she just copes in a different fashion. She makes it through the interminable stretch by fretting about the dying houseplants. Winters are tough on houseplants. By March most have passed along to the big compost pile in the sky, or are staggering along with spindly, semi-nude branches. The robust, bushy, flowering geranium of last summer is now little more than a pathetic stump with a couple of leggy limbs desperately clawing for the increasing daylight in our kitchen window. She gives them pep talks to keep them going.

“You can do this geranium! You’ve got the spirit and the drive. Drink in the sun, baby! Hang onto your leaves… No! Don’t! Oh… you let it go. It’s okay, it’s okay. You’ve got another one. Hang tough.” 

As an attempt to distract her from the houseplant deathwatch I obtained some crocus and daffodil bulbs to grow in the house. It seemed like a sound idea four weeks ago, growing a little spring in our house, but has only led to additional angst. Leaves have sprung up, and promptly laid down, tips withered and brown.

An act of desperation gone badly

I escape Mrs. Poynor’s alternating bouts of begging the geranium to continue on in the good fight, and the great wailing and gnashing of teeth over the obviously ill bulbs, by seeking signs that progression toward spring has not stagnated entirely.

The local stores offer hope with tangible evidence that we are moving in the right direction. I can always count on Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware to bolster my spirits. The store is a harbinger for the arrival of spring. As the days pass, changes come about in what is on sale. Once the seed packet display is set out next to the snow shovels the certainty of winter’s end is sealed. I am not alone in my jubilation. Groups of us stand around the seed display, basking in its promise of the end to winter. (I once suggested we all join hands and sing Kumbaya, but the threat of a restraining order squelched any follow through.) 

Snow shovels and seed packets. Spring is on the way!
Another favorite diversion is to drive around and monitor the deterioration of the ice sculptures set up for the Peninsula Winter Games. (See Frozen Fun post.) While some may think it macabre to enjoy the rotting demise of ice art, it lifts my spirits. It’s also great sport to see what the sculptures morph into on the way to becoming a puddle. 

Being of Irish descent, the owner of Sweeney’s Clothing store has a leprechaun carved, along with another figure, every year; one year a bear, another year a moose, and so forth. It’s a gamble on whether, or not, the leprechaun will make it to St. Patrick’s Day. This year it was a seal balancing a ball on its nose keeping the leprechaun company. I’ve watched with morbid curiosity as the two figures in front of the store decompose. The leprechaun isn’t going to make it to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day. A brief spate of above freezing weather last week caused serious morphing. Somehow… things are… not right.

OMG! Fighting ice zombie chickens!

No longer are the leprechaun and the seal enjoying themselves. They have been replaced by fighting ice zombie chickens. That’s okay. Fighting ice zombie chickens mean spring is on the way.

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