The Last Day of Winter

TALKING TO MYSELF 19 March 2014  Today is officially the last day of winter. Don't get too excited. The ten day forecast predicts the temperature will only be 41 here this time next week. Although spring officially arrives tomorrow, I'm not optimistic that she'll put on much of a show until late April. You see, Easter falls on April 20 this year, close to its latest possible date, April 25. Mother - and others I've known who were close to the land and the cycle of the seasons - said that we should brace for a "late spring" when Christians celebrate the ressurection of Jesus deep into April. The opposite, she believed, also was true. "Early Easter, early spring." By the way, Easter can come as early as March 22, in case you're wondering, though it hasn't done so since 1818 and won't again until 2285. It did fall on March 23 in 2008, however, and often arrives on or near my April 7th birthday. 

Yesterday, as my heavy wool coat and I pushed back at the harsh, March wind, I got to thinking about Mother's late Easter-late spring philosophy. Is that why spring has been so reluctant this year to wrestle control from old man winter?  Hereabouts, she often makes some sort of effort in late February though cold weather always makes a short comeback. This year, even in mid-March, however, she's barely made a whimper, and winter hasn't even paused to take a breath. Winter, 2014, has been one of the longest I can recall in this part of Kentucky.

Here's an old essay from You Can Go Anywhere that's more about my annual impatience for spring's arrival than with meterology. Maybe it will give you a smile, or at least hope, on the last day of this persistent winter.

Spring Fever

          February in Kentucky is a tease.  It winks, and silly me – I always fall for its unreliable, but seductive promises.  Like Charlie Brown, who steps up to kick the proverbial football year after year even though he knows Lucy will snatch it away, I rush out in February shouting, “it’s almost spring.” 

          And every year, February toys with me.  It warms my back as I search for the tender evidence of new grass.  It whispers sweet possibilities in my ear.  How about a new flowerbed over there, maybe an arbor here -- or roses?  Why not give roses another chance this spring?  It even fills my head with highfalutin theological notions about the annual renaissance of nature.  But inevitably, February pulls a sucker punch, and laughs, “not quite yet, my friend.” 

           After January’s arctic blast, I woke up this week, right on schedule, to February weather that hinted spring.  Temperatures hovered in the upper 50’s several days running.  I forgot my winter coat when I left the house, and ambled from car to grocery store and back home again comfortable in a pink wool sweater that made me look like an Easter egg.

          The sub-division’s landscape crew arrived to spread fresh mulch on the common areas, and I’m pretty sure I saw minute buds on some of the trees.  You know – the tiny, mischievous ones that play hide-and-seek, that seem to whisper “winter doesn’t know we’re here.”  

 The daffodils got really excited in the perennial garden.  Like fans at a University of Kentucky basketball game performing a pep club wave, they enthusiastically poked their arms up through the crusty soil towards the sun. 

          Ah – the sun.   Its rays danced where no light had lingered for months, and I saw webs of soot hanging on the furnace’s winter registers.  Dinginess had settled over my whole house.   I reached for the dust cloth, but no, I couldn’t stay inside and clean on a spring day in February.  Almost, it was spring, and I rushed outside to greet its coming.

          But then the mourning doves fluttered down and hovered on the backyard deck, puffed out for all the world like they were wearing mink coats styled for shivering birds.  They looked at me with somber eyes, as if to say, not so fast, old girl, and then began in plaintive unison:  The temperature will drop below freezing tonight.   Snow by the weekend.  The warrior winter won’t surrender so easily, or so soon.  This is a war, you know, and the last battle has not been fought.

          I sighed in response.  Yes, they’re right.  February warm spells are only a brief cease-fire in Kentucky’s tussle with winter.  Almost -- but not quite -- is the spring.


Butter in the Morning and You Can Go Anywhere are coming soon to Kindle. Bothe are available in print from Amazon.com and from your favorite Indie.