By Bruce Stambaugh
Winter just wouldn’t let go, even on the first full day of spring.
The day dawned with glorious anticipation. A rosy sunrise filtered through the cumulous clouds hanging low on the eastern horizon. It was down hill from there for much of the rest of the morning.
After the welcoming daybreak came the discovery of a horseshoe nail in the sidewall of a relatively new tire. It’s just one of the hazards of living in Holmes County, Ohio.
Next came the snow, which the weather forecast seemed to have overlooked. By the time my wife and I had reached our morning’s destination, nearly an inch had fallen.
A former student of mine had invited us to view his maple sugaring operation at the southern end of the county. It had been a long time since I had seen Elmer, a quiet, studious youngster when I taught him in fourth grade. That was 44 years ago.
Elmer had called earlier in the week to tell me he’d be boiling sap. Unfortunately, this day wasn’t one of them. Instead, we had a very nice visit with Elmer and his wife, reminiscing about those long ago school days.
After a while, Elmer’s mother joined us shortly before we needed to leave. By then an overcast sky had replaced the springtime squalls.
Up hill, down dale, around curves left and right, the further north we drove towards home, the stronger the sun became. At lunchtime, with the heavens still hazy, the sun hung overhead like a bare light bulb trying to illuminate an entire gymnasium.
I had a couple of appointments to keep in the afternoon, which required further driving. I enjoyed my visits, and was pleased to see no line at the usually busy carwash. I needed to clean off the mud from the morning’s foray.
When I returned home, my workaholic wife was outside cleaning up the yard and flowerbeds. Out of chivalry and my own desire to enjoy the remainder of the day, I donned a light jacket and joined her.
I needed to do my part in collecting winter’s litter. When you propagate a mini-forest of various deciduous and evergreen species, a lot of dead leaves and windblown sticks need to be gathered.
This surge of warmth and sunshine had energized me. I decided to trim some of the wiry lower branches of the jumble of trees and scrubs I had planted over three decades.
I knew when I had snipped a sugar maple limb. The sap dripped like a leaky faucet. Right then and there I decided I would head back to Elmer’s sugar shack the next day. I definitely wanted to see his outfit in operation.
All the while, the afternoon sun grew stronger and stronger. It was good to be outside again enjoying the sights, sounds and odorous whiffs of the springtime countryside.
Every few minutes, the song sparrows let loose a few bars of their cheery chorus. Not to be outdone, the cardinals called, too, first from a fir tree, and then they flitted to the bare branches of the oaks and maples.
I was enjoying myself so much, I pitched my jacket altogether. In a matter of hours, it had gone from a winter coat day to a no coat day.
I was glad that winter had finally let go its hoary hold, even if it was only a brief interlude on spring’s first afternoon.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2014