How long can a series of cold snaps and snow storms last into spring after a forgivable winter? About 25 days, give or take. Everything up to March 21, seemed to be fairly muted, save for a few bouts of cutting temperatures after the bleak blanket of gray clouds was ripped out of the atmosphere above. The sun shone over the land, but nothing was warming.
Trees weren’t budding like they were supposed to. Ice and driving snow started spring break two days early for all of the children around, while those who had to stay behind had to weather salting and shoveling their way to their normal lives. The Earth seemed to go through a spring fever dream that couldn’t be broken fast enough.
When a glimmer of good fortune appeared as 40-degree temperatures, the people were blown away by the harsh, biting winds and allowing nature to easily pick up the rug they were standing on. The environment dampened with mists and rains that felt like needles puncturing the skin. This imposter was uncharacteristic with how the days were expected, a rather unhappy and vengeful one.
The flora attempted to rise from its unusually soft prison, even beginning to bloom in bright colors breaking the pensive tones of the sky above. Leaves began to unfurl from the unburdened trees lining the streets of a small town. However, as soon as these changes were noticeable, nature would strike back in some way to force humanity to pay penance for its misdeeds in the past.
The media reported on record global temperatures in a relentless pursuit to convert the non-believers of global warming or climate change or whatever the newest buzzword was for the moment. World maps were displayed, stripped of the usual topography or borders defining national relationships, and instead were colored in a spectrum of warm colors. Pictures of the globe were colored in reds, yellows and oranges and only a fraction of the map shown in blues and whites.
There was a disagreement between the media’s scientific projections and the actual lay of the land. While it may be true, some people would say that these stories were unequivocally false in the name of politics and greed. “Now I’m not a scientist, but…” their skin wasn’t lying like their intentions. People, plants, and animals are all at the mercy of forces out of their control.
Nature is a mystery in how organisms cope. The warmbloods make their best efforts to become reclusive unless they have some sort of duty like gather food or trying to get a paycheck. The cold-blooded live in a sort of stasis, just waiting for some hope that the environment will become friendly enough for them to thrive again. But the plants are the most dramatic indication of the cold hell that all life have to endure because they are fixed to the ground. Leaves can’t flourish, only waiting to erupt in the skyline. Flowers sink and contract on themselves to save their most beneficial parts for the impending season. Cold is contagious.
As everyone and everything continues with their normal behaviors, shaken to stay warm and busy at the cellular level, a break comes in the form a warm front moving from the west. A dry spell and warm air leaving the Rockies and into the Midwest before descending upon the Great Lakes. After having to deal with a twisted perception of what winter and spring are, a little bit of warmth is anticipated.
The morning is business as usual, chill and still. No harm, no foul, shivering out to cars to go to work or gather supplies for the day. Living beings are all recoiled into themselves to stay warm for as long as possible. For those who do have a duty that keeps them inside, they are none the wiser to the outer conditions. Windows, walls, and insulation work their best to separate the two worlds.
As the day progresses, breaking from a soft misty morning into high noon, some start to notice the air go from crisp to tepid. The sunlight grows in intensity, bathing the land in ultraviolet light. Maturing flowers finally start to hit their point of blooming how they should be in the middle of April. Floral mating calls are issued to the fauna to do their part in the pollination process, attracting those who answer it to see bright colors and take in vivid scents.
Three, four, five o’clock rolls on as the lines between nature and society begin to blur. The ground, the asphalt, the cars have been given sufficient time to absorb the heat unleashed from the sky. In the summer it would feel cold out, but emerging at the tail end of the winter, the air feels like a simple paradise.
Bank clocks, thermometers, mobile apps all agree on 64 degrees.
It’s more than just warmth, this is the feeling of absolute freedom. The clothes get lighter, even revealing skin to bask in the new but familiar gift constantly soaring through the cosmos to the Earth. Nothing is contracting to retain warmth at this point; people resist the urge to stay in shelter.
A golden sunset envelopes towns under the start of a vivid, watercolor painted sky. The layers of the atmosphere change from a pleasant namesake blue to a gradient of orange, pink and lavender tones.
One town, in particular, can be the representative of others sharing this majestic scene. The streets all providing the same variety of irresistible sensory joy. Merely walking a mile there is a whole other world compared to what it was for the prior 25 days.
Background music may have been necessary for when the days become repetitive, but this shift provides its own soundtrack. A chorus of birds sings as footsteps serve as percussion driving the melody. Children’s laughter adds like a section of woodwinds, their parents and other adults fleshing out the sounds as the shimmering brass instruments.
Cracked sidewalks are no longer mortar grey but now splashed with chalky colors drawn from the sky and the trees. The innocent graffiti is a folksy masterpiece, untainted by lingering thoughts of perfection and competition. Letters, numbers, names, stick figures and childlike depictions of life are scribbled against the concrete, abandoned for family dinners.
The smell of flowers and nature’s life cycle is replaced by the smell of hundreds of barbecues. Charcoal driven flares produce a savory smoke as choice cuts of meat sizzle on the decks of families and friends gathering under the warm spring sheet. Spices and sauces emit an aromatic star shower enticing passersby through osmosis.
As the time dwindles down and the sky darkens, laughter from homegrown games of frisbee, tag and free play return to open yards. Trampoline springs creek from the elasticity throwing people of all ages in the sky. Overheard conversations piece together various stories of the day at work or school. Some match up from times working at the same farm, factory or store, yet stories from one neighbor to another may not fit together. However, with the right imagination, the blanks could easily be filled.
This day is special. It is a shift from the dreary filter of the previous days to be enjoyed. Subsequent days may come and go in the same fashion, but this one day will always be remembered as an informal celebration of the first day of spring.