Ah, spring. I’ll never forget what my dear old grampa told me when I was just a wee thing no taller than the rhubarb. He sat me on his knee, gazed across his green acres and said …

Holy crap, I guess I did forget. Something about spring being like a fickle woman? Something about how a fickle woman is like an apple tree? Women are just plain crazy?

It will come to me. I bring it up at all because Monday, April 15, was quite close to that first special day, the one we all dream of when we’re knee-deep in snow, cold all the way to our bones and trying frantically to clear our yards so we can go to the hardware store and buy a new shovel. This one is broken, which is why this is taking so long.

Monday was almost that very special day when you can go outside in short sleeves without turning blue. It was almost warm enough that if you were to stumble outside in bare feet, you wouldn’t lose your toes. Wouldn’t lose all of your toes, anyway.

It was almost warm and sunny enough that you might have fled from your first bee or encountered your first shirtless man, chalk-white and hairless, lurking outside the post office.

Monday was almost that sweet. Almost. It wasn’t quite there. For a spring day to really stand in your memory, it has to be perfect. Not the slightest chill in the air and no long periods of gray. You have to hear at least five people exclaim, in tones normally reserved for religious experiences, “Isn’t it NICE out?” You have to hear at least one fool complain about the heat.

We almost got there. And what’s painful about almost getting there is that the rest of the country is already past it. How many of you have kin on the West Coast or even just down in lower New England? Show of hands, please.

Put your hands down, you look ridiculous.

The point is, most of the nation has already experienced the glory of the first spring day. They’ve seen their first robins, burned themselves on hot car seats, seen a shirtless person who, at first glance, appeared to be a woman. But it wasn’t; it was just an oddly shaped man, and how disappointing is THAT?

Down South, spring has come and gone. They’ve got 90-degree weather in places and people are mowing lawns. When they hear we still have snow on the ground, they gush sympathy that does a poor job of masking a gleeful sense of schadenfreude. “What? There are still mountains of snow in the Walmart parking lot? Oh, dear how terrible for you! You MUST come visit us so you can get warm. But not this week. We’re, uh … painting this week.”

If you’re a romantic, like myself (stop laughing) you might opine that spring in Maine is sweeter than anywhere else based solely on its elusive nature. When you have to wait seven months for a single glorious day, you won’t take it for granted or waste it doing something stupid like working or spending time with loved ones. You’ll spend it standing in your backyard, semi-naked and thinking of 30 or 40 or 80 days just like it from springs past. You’ll do something entirely meaningless, like hosing down your driveway or washing your car, just because you can do it without getting frostbite.

You’ll take note of everything, from the bees to the sweet smell of mud, and file it away somewhere so you can think of it come mid-January, when it feels like spring will never come again.

Monday was so close, dagnabbit. You could almost open your windows without needing to crank on the furnace five minutes later. You could almost wear open-toed shoes and that cute tank top you bought on special last year at TJ Maxx. Although it kind of makes you look chunky.

Almost. Like Mark Twain said, “It just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so.”

Like Doug Larson said: “Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”

Or like my dear old grampa said on that delicious spring day so long ago: “Boy, come on out of the bathroom, what are you doing in there for hours at a time?”

Ah, good. I knew it would come to me.

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. You can send “cruelest month” photos of croci peeking through brown grass to [email protected]


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