Monday, May 5, 2008

Signs of Spring

A month or so ago, I treated myself to new gardening gloves. I go through about a pair a year, especially if they’re cheap. I seldom get around to washing them, because it’s a nuisance to soak and scrub enough mud off before tossing them in the washer. I have washed gardening gloves, but then they come apart at the seams, especially if they’re cheap. In just a month’s time, my new, cheap, gloves have had a workout—planting two rounds of seeds in the basement and mega-weeding outside. They also kept my hands warm during chilly days of garden cleanup. Well, warm is a relative term, especially in early spring in Chicago. Because I was wearing gardening gloves, my fingers felt as though they’d been handling ice cubes, rather than dry ice. They were only painful enough to be run under warm water for five minutes, as opposed to needing to be treated for frostbite in the ER. Springtime in Chicago is a real test of patience. But gardening gloves help.

About two weeks ago, during fickly warm teaser temps, I optimistically washed my winter parka and put it away. A few days later, my brrrrrrrrrrrrr’s while walking into church elicited a practical question from my husband: “Why didn’t you wear a coat instead of that sweater?” I stubbornly announced that it was spring and I would not be wearing my parka any more until fall. All that April wintry week I caught flak for not wearing the parka. As I left the house to walk the dog, my husband commented, “I thought you said you weren’t going to wear a coat.” My response? “A turtleneck sweater, sweatshirt, hooded sweatshirt, and windbreaker do NOT count as a coat!” As I said, in early spring in Chicago, we measure warm against what we’ve just been through. The winter of 2007-08 was brutal and tenacious, as evidenced by snow on April 28 and the two late-April days of steady, icy 38 mph winds with gusts even higher.

Yesterday was a perfect spring day, warm by anyone’s standards, sunny, and with just a light breeze. My five glorious gardening hours were marred only by those teeny bugs with no radar. But if spring is finally here, gnats are just a nit. Notice I said if.

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