Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Spring Fever by any other name


NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook recently aired a segment on Chasing Spring. This got me thinking about the change of seasons here in Massachusetts.

New England has had a warm winter (all-in-all). And being in New England, I do not really expect that winter is completely over yet -- it is still March and my friends are still skiing. And winter colds are still keeping staffing levels low.

Yet spring is easing in. There were two robins in my yard a couple of days ago. The dogwood tree's buds are thinking about waking up. The daffodil greens have been up for weeks. And if we had any crocus this year, well, we blinked and missed them. Probably wiped out in one of those 3-day winters we had. You know the ones - it gets cold enough to snow, but 3 days later the only snow remaining is the raggedy, dirty, tail end of the largest piles on the corners of the largest intersections. The sounds have changed too -- more birds and the spring peepers are starting to create quite a racket in the swamp out back.

And then there is that annual ailment that aflicts people - Spring Fever.

People are giddy about not having to wear so many layers. And a lot of people, particularly those in cars, appear lost. I don't know if they set out to go somewhere (work, home, gas station, grandmother's house) or not, but I wouldn't put money on any of them getting there. And this is more than the usual crazy commuter-in-the-city traffice - even for the Boston area.

No, this includes a pickup truck seen today. When we pulled up behind the truck at the stoplight (red) it seemed to be calmly waiting for the light to change. Then, for some inexplicable reason, the truck decided that it needed to make an immediate left turn by peeling out and swinging wide on the way. Did I mention that the light was still RED. We decided to actually wait for the light to turn GREEN and crossed our fingers that we weren't about to drive over any pieces of the accident the truck was bound to cause. [No pieces - no visible accident. Whew!]

The daylight patterns are changing too. I needed sunglasses when I left work tonight. I consider the extra light to be a lovely thing. Yet it seems to cause great distress for a huge number of commuters. I describe this as the "great ball of fire in sky" syndrome. This huge fireball so frightens the drivers, especially those who seem to never have heard of sunglasses or visors, that they must immediately STOMP ON THE BREAKS! I don't know why this seems to make them feel better, but I guess it is comforting.

Just wait until after this weekend's change to Daylight Savings Time and we'll see what other symptoms of Spring Fever crop up.

The calendar (and the IRS) say that spring is here. The Jewish calendar tells me to hurry up and plan for (and clean for) Passover.

For some, it is the sports calendars that tell them it is spring. Baseball's spring training season is nearly over and the regular season about to start. Yet pro teams are still playing basketball and hockey.

So where am I going with this? I guess I want to remind myself to appreciate the signs of the season change as they come.
Spring is about the promise of what is to come, regardless of how long it takes. The natural transition is not a straight line. It is about leafing out and flowering, but also about some more snow flakes and weather cool enough you still need a turtleneck and a sweater.

And I would recommend that it is a time to chill out when you are behind the wheel of your cars. The rest of spring (and summer) will be nicer if you don't have to spend it in traction.