The Rural Rites of Spring
It’s an emotionally dangerous thing to develop a fondness for squirrels. Because sooner or later, you’re going to run over one. And so begin the rites of Spring.
Around the time the sap starts to rise, these little gray bandits start to fall. In their excitement to be running footloose from branch to limb, they get a little careless, particularly when trying to cross power lines that span the streets and highways.
This is where I come in. I seem to be some sort of tragedy magnet where the animal kingdom is concerned. If squirrels had a post office, my face would be posted on the wall.
They seem to know, somehow, the worst possible moment to lose their usual sure-footedness. As I am about to motor under the wire, they drop like the Flying Wallendas on a bad day. Tiny, furry acrobats without a net. Then, it’s my choice. Usher in Springtime by flattening a squirrel or go head to head with a Peterbuilt. Avoiding the semi appears to be the wiser choice.
Another sign of Spring on our roads is the ever-changing, always-surprising surface conditions of the pavement (or the lack thereof). Before your daily commute to the city, if getting stuck in the mire of your own driveway doesn’t wake you up; the heave in the road around the corner, caused by the last night’s freeze, will likely get your attention. Then, an afternoon thaw will turn the heave into a buckle and catch you on the return trip home.
And, of course, there is the mud-today-dust-tomorrow challenge. This causes seemingly no-nonsense people to believe that writing WASH ME PLEASE on the trunk of someone’s car is the height of intelligent wit.
The streets of Springtime become busy, too, with another kind of traffic. Walkers. Treadmills and aerobics on DVD are abandoned for the call of the open road. My little neighborhood makes a perfect one-mile-around track. Ten stray dogs as escort, no extra charge.
There are the serious, health incentive walkers, easily identified by the eyes; straight ahead, no looking around. Concentrating on even breathing and dreaming, no doubt, about carbohydrates. Then there’s me. Eyes everywhere, looking all over, concentrating on nothing (as usual) and mentally counting the change in my pocket for Ben and Jerry’s Chunkey Monkey at the corner store.
This brings to mind another Springtime amusement. I’m always fascinated by what is revealed along the roads, in the ditches and in the yards after the snow melts. Some things we might prefer to remain snow covered. However, Barbie and G.I. Joe, who went MIA sometime around Thanksgiving, will be found after the meltdown along with your extra car keys, two or three stick-to-the-dash coffee mugs that unfortunately didn’t stick to the roof of the car, a window scraper, forty-seven Wal-Mart circulars no longer stapled, a sneaker, a dish towel that blew off the clothes line and some folding money, if you’re lucky.
Treasures of Spring. Ah, life is grand.
photo courtesy scarysquirrelworld