After a long and miserable cold stretch that has made me understand why people get grumpier in January and February, we were treated to a gorgeous stretch of warm days.
I love the first warmup of the year. There’s just something so heartening about it. Outside, everything is still bare and brown. But the ground has a spring to it when you walk on it – like it is loosening up to let green grass and dandelions start pushing their way upwards. The breeze feels more like a kiss on the cheek than a slap across it.
I was off Friday, so Lee and I decided to explore a hiking trail not far from home. The path was muddy where the last clumps of snow had melted away. But the sun was shining and we ran into several others with the same idea. The neighborhood seemed to be out in full force, shaking off the laziness of winter and stretching their legs. People smiled easily and exchanged hellos as we passed on the trail. We stopped to pet several pups out with their owners. I love how we all take the time to smile and chat and appreciate the day out on a trail. When we see these same people in the grocery store or sit frustrated in traffic together, we never think to exchange greetings.
Being outdoors just to be there – not to rush and run to DO something – brings out the best in people.
We were also greeted by four whitetail deer who bounded right across the path, just a few feet in front of us. They were so close I could see the nervousness in their soft brown eyes and the coarser ridges in their fur. It was a beautiful moment.
We went to another trail today. It wasn’t as warm and this one was even muddier and harder to travel, but it still felt delightful, like waking up after a long hibernation. We had planned to do the same on Saturday too, but ended up skipping it because in spite of the warm temperatures, the winds were off the hook. It was so blustery around here we actually went outside a few times to make sure shingles weren’t flying off the roof or that we weren’t airborne and on our way to Oz.
Even Saturday, though, there were signs that we’re turning the corner towards spring. We ran out to grab a few things, and as we were driving home through the neighborhood I looked out the window and saw a hefty elderly man standing on his porch. He was a bald and barefoot, wearing a pair of black shorts. And absolutely nothing else.
He had his head tilted up into the wind, grinning like a kid who just heard the ice cream truck coming for the first time since last summer. His giant bare belly was a white globe hanging over his shorts, seeming to root him in place and keep the wind from toppling him over.
I haven’t seen someone look that happy in a long, long time.
In my neck of the woods, happy almost-naked dudes letting the sun hit their big pale bellies for the first time as they stand on their porches or stroll around their backyard domains is a definite sign of spring. It may not be one that’s as quaint or as traditional as a robin, but it works.
Of course, they’re calling for snow tomorrow night.