By Bruce Stambaugh
The days we have long awaited are at hand. After a winter that wouldn’t quit, and a spring that seemed more like November threefold, these desired days have sprung upon us as if a seasonal switch suddenly had been flipped, albeit belatedly.
Like much of the northern part of the country, Ohio spent the first five months of 2011 snowed in, flooded out, and shivering. Officially northeast Ohio had recorded a grand total of six sunny days between Jan. 1 and May 1.
The predominance of the gloomy, damp and cold days translated into depressed spirits and confined activities. But even as the days of May warmed and trees and flowers budded and bloomed, human outdoor activity remained restricted by wave after wave of heavy rainstorms.
Though we were mostly spared the severe weather that other parts of the country received, outside work and play remained limited. Now all that is behind us. The rich warm days of summer are here, and it is marvelous to inhale and embrace their arrival.
The anxious anticipation for sunnier, warmer days ended seemingly overnight. Farmers all across America’s breadbasket couldn’t wait to get into their fields, though many had to due to the saturated soil. Even teams of workhorses labored extra hard to break the soggy earth.
One week wood ducks floated on temporary lakes. The next the waterfowl were gone, replaced by plowed, harrowed and planted fields. That’s what a string of sunny days accompanied by strong warm southwest breezes can do to excess moisture.
Contractors and landscapers worked sun up to sundown to make up for lost time in pouring footers, building, excavating, and planting annuals. Commerce was renewed.
Motorcycle clubs and bicycle enthusiasts basked in the opportunities to wind their way all across rural byways. Children rode up and down lanes in pony carts and four-wheelers alike.
Gardeners finally could set their vegetable seeds and plants. In some locales, cooperative groups gathered to make the pleasant process all the more so and speedier.
Teenagers plunged without complaint into chilly lake waters just because they could. The outboard motors of both boaters and fishermen hummed in unison at the freedom to finally be able to play.
Backyard birds coaxed their fledglings out of their secure nests and into the environs of the real world. Often they paused to collectively sun themselves like gaggles of bathers at the beach sans the bikinis.
The deciduous trees unfolded their canopy without delay, painting the landscape green on green. Soon the leaf cutters were hard at work thinning the verdant crop.
Irises, lilacs, peonies, poppies and roses created fragrant rainbows in every neighborhood. Azaleas and rhododendrons revealed their lovely petals just as the dogwoods dropped theirs.
Sitting on the airy deck of our woodland cottage in southeast Ohio, a single butterfly exactly symbolized the temporal jubilance. An impressive yellow and black tiger swallowtail zipped erratically through forest openings forged by gravel roadways and power line cuts.
The butterfly darted unpredictably from shade to sun repeatedly among the emerald lushness. The butterfly improvised its quixotic dance back and forth all afternoon and well into the evening hours. I never saw it land.
These are the days we have longed for, hoped for, prayed for. Like the innocent butterfly, let us rejoice and be glad in them, dancing a celebrative dance as if our sole purpose was to simply extol life’s goodness. Perhaps it is.