They say it is officially spring and for some, visions of seedlings and flowers and butterflies are what they expect. They are obviously not from these parts. Spring in this part of the world is just a word that is supposed to make us feel good, to give us hope that someday the snow will disappear and all will be right in the world. Right, and there is such a thing as the Great Pumpkin or the Easter Bunny.
For those of us that have been here for a while we know better and arenít easily sucked into such a false sense of security. My father had a saying that a true Northerner doesnít put away his shovel until the end of June and even after that itís within reach. Iíve seen it snow every month except August and have run into a few people who say that it had snowed that month at some time in the past. There are however indicators that spring is here.
On the bright side -40 temperatures are pretty well gone but that Ė sign still hovers around the temperatures and there is still a wind chill from time to time. What I do find amazing though is our adaptation to the weather extremes. When fall hits is and the highs were around 10 C we hurriedly whipped out our winter parkas and started to shiver. Now with 10 C degrees we are walking around with spring jackets with the zipper undone just begging for a cold or the flu. Past experiences also prove that those temperatures can drop like a stone in a moments notice and a full tilt blizzard is not a rare thing in these parts. For the most part though the temperatures are gradually rising and the landscape is changing.
White or brown
After months of winter weather the scenery is changing and with it the colour. Weíve gone from that blinding whiteness to a dull brown and its evident everywhere. The snow banks, the lawns, the roads, the sidewalks and the parking lots are all showing the deposits of dirt, sand and grime accumulated over the past five months and it seems every bit of it makes it into the house. If we donít track it in our pets do, especially if you own a dog. Unless you intercept them at the door your will have muddy footprints all over the house and letís not get into the deposits theyíve left in the backyard. Unless you were out there everyday picking up those hockey pucks, they have now become smelly time bombs or landmines and your backyard is now no manís land. If your dog is white in colour youíll find out quickly that Fidoís colour takes on earth tones and smells like a compost heap. The one thing that really helps with that dirty snow is rain. It tends to wash away all that nasty stuff until the temperature drops and it snows and your back to square one.
Lawns and gardens
With so much snow for such a long time the prospect of having a nice lawn or garden are foremost on our mind come spring. When it comes to lawns, us grumpy old men go to extremes to have the best on the block and with it the bragging rights. We will spend a small fortune to get just the right fertilizer, the right lawn seed, the perfect sprinkler and the perfect lawnmower to show up the neighbour next door or anyone else who dares challenge us. Itís not just pride at stake when it comes to grumpy old men and lawns itís also jurisdiction. We may not have a whole lot to say when it comes to whatís going on inside the house because we know our significant others claim jurisdiction.
Outside is a different story. That lawn is now grumpy old menís land and we will defend it. Gardens are a different story. For most grumpy old men a garden contains things we avoid like lettuce, carrots, and other vegetables, but we will help out when asked or sometimes ordered to. If a garden contains flowers itís a pretty good bet that we had nothing to do with it and go to great pains to make sure other grumpy old men donít see us anywhere near them.
Why we stay
So why do we stay here when we know we have long winters, wet springs, short summers and cold autumns? I can think of a couple reasons. Besides having sunsets at 11 in the evening in June itís what we DONíT have that makes it attractive. We donít have wood ticks, West Nile, disease, hurricanes, Lyme disease, tsunamis, earthquakes, poisonous snakes, poisonous insects, lions, tigers, sharks, jellyfish, volcanoes or crocodiles. With that in mind this isnít such a bad place to be.