We just observed the spring equinox, marking the day that light and darkness are equal. It sounds like a high fantasy movie about the forces of light and darkness striving for control over Middle Earth—or it could be just a date on the calendar. Either way, the equinox signals the start of spring.
In addition to having more light in our lives, there are some other wonderful things about spring:
-Birds singing in the mornings. Who needs an alarm clock when you can wake up to a full-fledged concert? If you’ve always wanted a pet bird but balked at the thought of a cage, this is your chance. Hang up a few birdhouses outside your window, and they will come. You get the benefit of watching your bird friends build their nests and hatch their fat, fluffy babies, and you don’t have to clean up any messes.
-Bears waking up. Okay, so this might be a downside of spring, depending on how friendly you are with the bears. I get a thrill every time I see one passing through my backyard. They say bears are grumpy when they emerge from their dens. I don’t get that. They’ve had the ultimate chance to sleep in, and they still complain when they get up?
-Spring break. It’s not hibernation like the bears get, but for a kid freed from school for an entire week, the chance to sleep in is awesome. Mom’s cheery “good morning” becomes irrelevant, as wake-up time migrates to well after noon. Teachers, don’t imagine that your students have a full week to do any assigned homework. Days are short during spring break, despite the lengthening daylight.
-Breakup. Our relationship with winter is over, as the snow and ice fades out of our lives for the rest of the year. This stage can also be described as “meltdown,” for those times when winter doesn’t give up without a fuss.
-Fresh paint on the road. Every winter the painted lines on the road disappear into oblivion. Small details like turning lanes and no-passing zones become invisible, and drivers have to rely on their memories or common sense to get them where they want to go. But the road painters come out in the spring along with the daffodils and skunk cabbage, bringing order into a chaotic world.
-Hazard-free sidewalks. When the snow and ice melts, you can once again navigate the roads and sidewalks around town without fear of slipping, sliding, or otherwise ending up as an Internet meme. You will still need to watch your step, however. As the snow recedes, a winter’s worth of dog poop is uncovered. Let the walker beware!
-The end of all the financial paperwork. The PFD application is done, the FAFSA and CSS Profile are filed so my kids can go to college for one more year, and the taxes are well on their way. They’ll be done by April 15. They have to be.
-Betting. You can find unique opportunities to place a bet in the springtime. There’s the Nenana Ice Classic, where you bet on the day and hour that the ice will go out on the Tanana River. I like to think of the founders of this revered Alaska tradition, sitting around bored out of their minds, grabbing any opportunity to liven things up. My sister informs me that this betting fervor has spread to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with their “Car Plunge Contest.” Players lay bets as to when a bright orange 1998 Saturn sedan will fall through the ice into a caved-in mine. Which would you rather see go into the drink, an oversize tripod or a bright orange car?
-The rest of the holiday season. Springtime brings a number of important holidays in quick succession, including St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and my personal favorite, April Fools’ Day. This year is a tricky one, with Easter falling on April 1. I wonder how many kids will wake up to Easter baskets filled with gluten-free communion wafers instead of chocolate? Or maybe they’ll go to color their eggs, only to find that they’re raw instead of hard-boiled. April Fool!
So enjoy the beginnings of spring. Wake up with the bears to the sound of birds singing as the morning light streams through your windows, unless you’re sleeping in over spring break. Take an uneventful walk on snow-free sidewalks or a drive on newly painted roads. Celebrate your tax refund with a small wager on the time of breakup. Just look out for April Fools’ Day mischief on your way to church on Easter Sunday.
• Peggy McKee Barnhill is a wife, mother and debut author who writes cozy mysteries under the name “Greta McKennan.” Her first novel, Uniformly Dead, is available at Hearthside Books. She likes to look at the bright side of life.