By Janice Lindsay, Contributing Writer
Do we deserve this? Have we earned it? And why do we New Englanders hear a persistent inner voice whispering that we don's deserve an early spring if we didn's work hard enough to earn it?
As I write this, Mother Nature bestows unseasonable warmth. Green shoots poke toward the sun from their muddy winter garden beds. Red-winged blackbirds and robins have arrived. Spring peepers peep. The earth smells sweet, the air soft. People wash their cars, tune up the lawn mowers, and count dollars saved on the heating bill.
But deep in our New England hearts, we know this is too good to be true. For Mother Nature does not take kindly to people congratulating themselves on benefits they do not deserve. We did nothing to earn this early spring, and we might not be allowed to keep it. In fact, as you read this, Mother has probably already taken it back.
There's only one way to we earn an early spring; that is, by surviving a terrible winter. This we know. And this we have not done.
Some people love winter, some hate it. But we all seem to take grim pleasure as we watch a winter storm approach. Our mettle is about to be tested! Let's see how tough we really are! We speculate about how bad the storm is going to be. While it's raging, we marvel (not without some genuine fear and agitation) at how bad it is. Afterwards, we brag about how bad it was: who got more snow, who got more wind. We silently congratulate ourselves that, strong and resourceful as we are, we survived.
We'se oddly fond of the baddest bad. We celebrate broken bad records: the deepest snow we'se had to shovel, the thickest ice we'se had to break, the lowest temperatures our thermometers have recorded, the fiercest wind we'se had to bundle up against.
Perhaps this is all to reassure ourselves that we are hardy and robust and unafraid. Perhaps it makes us feel more worthy than our less courageous friends who insist on living in, or leaving for, southern winter climates.
Or perhaps it's to convince ourselves that, because we have survived a rugged winter, we really truly deserve to be rewarded, with an early spring. And we suspect that, this year, because we haven's, we don's.
The past winter wasn's terrible enough to earn us any points with Mother Nature. For many of us, it was a relief while it was happening, but it has left us nothing to boast about â” yet.
Spring has technically arrived, but we know that Mother Nature is not impressed with technicalities. We all remember snow and ice in April. Last year, local runners had a major challenge to get ready for the Boston Marathon, dodging snow banks and ice sheets. If we get too complacent about an early spring, this could happen. We know this. Who among us has put away our warm boots and heavy coats?
True New Englanders that we are, we cannot fully relax and enjoy the blessings of this wonderful unseasonably warm weather. Always, in the back of our minds, is the suspicion: “There will be a price to pay for this.”
Earlier this week, I heard a report from the radio weather guy. After forecasting balmy temperatures for the next couple of days, he added this: “There are still no big rain showers or storms in sight. [Pause] Yet.”
As I write this, we'se all living inside that “yet.”
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