Spring dread sets in this time of year

Posted by GT on October 5th, 2008 — Posted in Newspaper columns

Originally published in April 2005, The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, Colo.

The sun warms our backs and the scent of blooms is in the air, moving with breezes that also carry the music of songbirds. Blues and greens – my favorites – dominate a spectacular display of colors. The great outdoors is moving into the year’s most glorious time. Oh, spring! When did I come to dread you so?

My eyes water, aggravated by the hayfever sneezes constantly growing in my sinuses. Yellow jackets build nests everywhere they can find an inch of sheltered space.

Neighborhood skunks have awakened from their winter rest, and most nights they perfume the area. This aggravates our dog, who puts up her hackles, growls and stomps around the house. The clacking of her toenails on the floor interests the girls and makes it harder for them to get to sleep.

Unreliable memory tells me spring was a glorious time in my childhood, involving bicycle adventures with friends, picnics and a new Gayla Baby Bat every year. The Baby Bat was my favorite, a black kite with stick-on bloodshot eyes. I could get Baby Bats airborne in the slightest wind and keep them up as long as I had the patience to hold onto the string. I wonder if they’re still available.

My first car – a 1966 Mustang I never should have been allowed to touch, much less drive – comes to mind when I recall teenage springtime experiences. Some may not believe this, but I was in great shape and had a generally cheerful disposition back then, possibly because I had that neat car. But I also behaved like a dork and so that’s all I want to say about the teenage me.

Spring remained fun in early adulthood. It meant swimming, hibachis, late-night walks or rides … and, starting in my mid-20s, it meant sharing these things with Lisa, who became my wife. Can’t beat that.

But springtime changed for me. Now when the weather warms, I start thinking about water hoses, mowers, weather-loosened shingles, light-bulb-singed bug corpses piling up under lamps. Worst of all is the weeds, weeds, WEEDS, growing in our lawn and driveway, under our decks, hugging up against the house, climbing fences.

What changed? Has one of the joys of my life dissipated because I’m growing older and nastier?

That’s possible, but I’d guess it also has something to do with being a homeowner instead of a renter. These days we have to handle our own problems instead of complaining to a landlord, and it’s no fun cleaning mouse turds out of a shed when I’d rather be playing softball.

Luckily, our daughters are working on teaching me how to enjoy spring again, and they’re doing so in the most ingenious way: by enjoying it themselves.

Donning shoes on a Saturday afternoon is a source of excitement to our girls, because they know it means we’re heading outdoors. So far, they don’t much mind whatever Lisa or I want to do once we get out of the house. Helping Mommy work in the garden, throwing a ball for the dog, taking a walk, checking out the fruit buds – it’s all good with them.

It furrowed my brow when I found out our older girl has adopted a bushy weed in our front yard, and has even watered it. But you can be sure I’m going to let that thing grow until it breaks out in foot-long thorns.

A trip to the swing set – that big piece of metal and plastic that’s so flipping hard to mow around – is always a source of fun. The girls get busy, chasing each other, having a ball. They’re willing to let me sit in a lawn chair and watch if that’s all I’m up for, but so much the better if I join in.

“Push me, Daddy!” our 4-year-old calls from her swing. Her little sister, 1, in the baby swing right next to her, echoes the call as best she can (a squeal that sounds something like “Pish, Dah-dee!”). Their faces flush pink and they smile in the spring sunlight. Smile at me.

Pull the weeds? Ah, heck, let ‘em grow. We’ve got better things to do.

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