Recklessly welcoming spring

BY KATE SNYDER

Community Columnist

It felt like spring today.

I know that such sentiments are reckless. It’s not actually spring. Not quite yet. According to the meme circulating on Facebook, we’re in “Spring of Deception” sandwiched between “Second Winter” and “Third Winter,” just before “Mud Season.”

Whatever. I don’t care. It may have only been 50 degrees, but the sun was shining and the air felt fresh and you can’t hold back your heart when the weather does that after a long cold winter in the middle of a global pandemic.

Has the world ever needed spring as badly as we need it this year? I’m not talking about the agricultural need. Obviously, we need the rain and the sun and the softening earth so we can grow things to eat and live. But I’m talking about an existential need. A collective, soul-deep need for longer, brighter days and a reason to smile.

We are so tired, poised here on the anniversary of the start of this whole mess. Do you celebrate the anniversary? Do you grieve it? Do you pay homage in some way to “the last week of normal” – since you certainly didn’t do so in the moment. Despite all the looming signs, we didn’t know. We weren’t prepared. (No, stockpiling toilet paper doesn’t count.)

Two weeks to flatten the curve.

I’m not casting judgment. We didn’t get it. We were ridiculously optimistic and beautifully naïve, thinking we’d hunker down for a bit and let it all blow over. But this was no righteous plague, no one-night wave of death that took out our enemies and spared our loved ones and allowed us to emerge in the morning, unscathed and free.

We battened down the hatches and waited. And then we kept waiting. And then we waited some more, until all our routines were broken, our schedules re-written, our habits re-formed.

I’m so ready to emerge from hibernation, but I don’t know when. I’m not even sure I know how anymore.

My parents have had both their vaccine shots. Thanks to my status as a community educator, I’ve had my first dose. My kids are back in school full-time, or close to it. But people are still dying and the timeline for vaccinating children is unclear and the masks are here to stay for the foreseeable future. We’re still avoiding movie theaters and indoor dining and hugging friends.

And I’m not arguing against any of it. I side with science and with caution. But – oh my god – if I don’t get out of my house and feel the sun on my face, I’m going to scream. And I might not stop.

We went to the park on the day that felt like spring. We ran around the baseball diamonds and fed the ducks. My elder daughter and my son forgot that they were probably too old for the playground, forgot that sometimes they hate each other. They held hands and skipped. I swear. I saw it with my own eyes.

We bought swimsuits on a recent trip to Walmart. Be the change you want to see in the world! I want to see sprinklers on the lawn and water balloon fights and maybe (dare I say it aloud?) a public pool open for the season. Not yet. Do I look like someone who wants to take a polar plunge? But soon.

It’s too soon to plant things, too soon to put away the winter jackets. Winter is still lurking in the shadows. I don’t care. It’s spring in my heart.