April 2011 Break-up and Other Signs of Spring

April is that tantalizing month when the days grow longer and the sun’s warmth starts seeping into our bones again. The scent of dirt sends gardeners scurrying for potting soil and seeds. Bits of green grass start pushing their way through the thawing ground. The silence of winter is giving way to the trickle of melting snow. It is a time of renewal and promise.

But let’s face it. Break-up is messy. Our family first arrived in Alaska during break-up and our realtor apologized.

“It’s the ugliest time of year,” he said.

We had never seen a place more beautiful. If this was what Alaskans considered ugly, we were in for a treat. Twenty-five years later I still can’t think of a place more inspiring; but I do have a better understanding of what the man meant about break-up.

Does anyone in April have a clean car? The kids come inside with sopping socks and the dog tracks in enough mud to plant those newly purchased seeds. The slant of sunlight through the windows accentuates every speck of dirt we missed over the winter months. But who wants to see sunlight through a window – we’re all ready to feel it our faces.

One bright afternoon I invited my grandson for an outing to hunt for signs of spring. At age four, he has experienced less than a handful of this season of awakening. So I asked him what kinds of things happen in the spring time. He thought a moment.

“The grass turns green,” he said. “And the bears come out of their caves.”

We could probably find some green grass somewhere – but decided against looking for bears. Here then, are some things we found on our hunt. Green grass (as promised) – being munched by a horse. Lots of puddles. Dogs hanging out car windows. Mud. A barista in short sleeves. Snow. People wearing rain boots. A bug.

Soon we’ll be packing away our skis and digging out hiking boots and backpacks. Meanwhile, Alaskans will smile a little broader, breathe a little deeper, and enjoy this muddy, messy, marvelous season of spring.

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