Time for old-man winter to pack up and let spring move in

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 19, 2000

I'm ready for spring.

Of course, by the time you read this column it may be 80 degrees and sunny.

As this visit pours from my fingers, I'm staring at another steel gray curtain outside my window. It seems like the old truism about weather in the South has held its credence: if you don't like the weather round here, just wait …it'll change.

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I personally am tired of gray skies, frozen precipitation, frozen pipes, faucets that won't run, checking antifreeze, wearing layers of clothes, and being relegated to staying indoors. It's obvious that I wouldn't last more than an hour in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My blood is designed to thin out in hot weather, not shiver my way through frost and wind chills.

I watch the ground in rapt anticipation of the first green bursts of narcissus and daffodil. Unfortunately, they seem to be freezing on emergence. All the robins that flew in last week seem to have taken the Greyhound back south. Short-sleeved shirts are just a musty dream in the back of my closet. I guess my only relief is trying to figure out how all those people in Key West are coping with temperatures in the 40's when the closest heater is somewhere around Gainesville. Misery does love company, and it's like the whole south has been neighborly all this winter.

Now, before anybody gets the idea that I'm being a grump about this, this winter has also treated us to some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets that have ever been; frosts that looked like snowfall; and snowfall that didn't last too long. The stark branches of a pecan tree reaching into the ice-blue sky is a picture that has burned into my memory, as well as the fact that the underbrush has been thinned to the point that we can see places in the woods that normally remain hidden.

Chickadees and red birds have chased each other across my yard and to the bird feeder all winter, painting the sky with their dips and doodles and chirps of song.

But I'd still like to feel those first drops of sweat trickle down into my eyes; tingle from that little pink flush on the back of your neck that you get from bending over a flower bed; smell the heady aroma of the good earth as you dig into the black soil to find just the perfect home for this year's tomato plants; listen to the symphony of bird and child and wind as they all reach their harmony of song; line up that first putt on flat, green grass; feel the solid tug of a big bream on the end of a cane pole; see the pink and white of dogwood and honeysuckle as far as the eye can see on a hillside, and take a deep breath perfumed with all the glory that is springtime in the south.

Go away, old man Winter. I'm ready to spend a little time out of doors.