The Coming of Spring

Spring is just around the corner. Then, the sap will begin to rise and things will be getting green again. Little boys will be shooting marbles, rolling hoops and flying kites. Big boys will be riding around town with their windows rolled down, whistling at anything that flutters. Little girls will be playing hopscotch, and the big girls will be fluttering.

Among the wonderful workings of Mother Nature is that most amazing instinct inherent among all living creatures which prods opposite genders of the same species toward a procreative union. This mutual attraction toward the other sex is most powerful when the soft zephyrs of spring begin wafting pleasant aromas of wild flowers and apple blossoms.

It is so compelling that normally stoic and impassive males often become excited and flip end over end! Some seem to be mesmerized. I once knew a farm boy who got so carried away he plowed up the line fence. He married the object of his reverie and lived happily for a little while. It is a sad fact that even the charm of spring is not everlasting. But it's nice while it lasts!

May Day comes smack in the middle of spring. During my little-boy years, this was our coming-out time. No matter how foul the weather, no matter if there was a foot of snow on the ground, tradition decreed—even demanded—that we shuck our shoes and socks. Also, flannel undergarments, which had felt so cozy and comfortable at the beginning of winter, were gleefully cast aside—even scorned!

Skin was in! We romped in the green grass, if there was any, enjoying the tickling sensation of the soles of our tender feet. We "trompt" in the mud and squirted it between our toes. Most little boys like mud, especially if it's real juicy. Butterflies like mud, too!

Dreams of "skinny-dippin'" came to mind when shoes came off, but the actual performance of this delightful diversion generally was postponed for at least a week or two, mostly at the insistence of concerned parents. Breaking the ice on the ol' swimmin' hole to take a frigid dip was thought to be hazardous to our health.

Many springs ago, back when I was a kid, sulphur and molasses was the more-or-less standard tonic given to kids to purify their blood (I never knew any parents who took the stuff themselves). Some rebellious youngsters had to be hog-tied and force-fed. The customary dose was two tablespoonsful.

A few parents, mostly Democrats, had a preference for a mixture of honey and kerosene, which was a more potent elixir. It had a tendency to take a little skin off your tongue!

Spring is house-cleaning time for most folks. This is a ritual that is performed in a rather haphazard manner at other times of the year, whenever the little woman entertains a notion; but come spring, they go at it tooth and toenail!

Husbands are often recruited to assist in moving furniture and stuff. Most husbands are not very enthusiastic about this sort of activity and often think up rather ingenious excuses to get out of it. Some of the meeker ones, who, it is said, will one day inherit the earth, submit patiently.

Country schools used to close their winter terms around the middle of April, mainly so the older boys could help their pops with the farm work. The general consensus at that time was that an eight-month term was enough for anybody.

Spring is when many homeowners get all fired up about gardening and entertain visions of vegetables by the truckload—of fantastic size and color, just like they're pictured in the seed catalogs. Everybody and his neighbor get into the spirit of the thing and start digging in the dirt, maybe using a thousand-dollar machine to stir up a plot of ground not much bigger than a postage stamp. The produce they grow may have an actual value of three dollars and fifty cents!

Each neighbor will have plenty of radishes and zucchini to share with others who already have more than they can use. Collectively, there'll be enough seed left over to plant at least half of the whole township.

Of course, a lot of fringe benefits go along with gardening, such as blisters, lower back pain and sometimes cardiac arrest. You can get a lot of enjoyment out of pulling weeds, squashing fat worms, applying fertilizer and squirting water.

Unfortunately, the enchantment of springtime wanes and eventually is no more. As all sources of energy lose their punch, all flames dim and go out, all bouncing balls lose their elasticity and all batteries run down, so does the Elysian season of spring lose its hypnotic punch. But it's nice while it is here!

Spring is when we set our clocks ahead one hour to save daylight. I can remember when, if we wanted to get up an hour earlier, we simply set the alarm an hour earlier. I guess that was a dumb way to do it, but we didn't know any better.

Come to think of it, why couldn't we, when we set our clocks ahead this spring, just tear an extra sheet off the calendar and save a whole month? Then we could kid ourselves a little bit and take off our long johns!