As the layers of ice and snow melt away, treasures begin to appear, discarded pieces of this and that, a detritus disaster that could cause profound distress if you let it. Let's call it as it is: this is the worst time of year in terms of community cleanliness. If Communities in Bloom judges chose the first week of April to determine our bloomage, we would be in a whole lot of trouble.
Of course, that doesn't happen, and armies of volunteers take to the streets, ditches and back alleys pitching in to bring our community back to its normal beautiful state. The transformation will largely wait until the snow has all melted away, probably 10 days from now, but by early May, we will be blooming ready for any judge who happens to come our way.
I've done a fair bit of traveling at this time of year to a variety of American cities - Savannah, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Albuquerque, and San Francisco - and each one had a matted, muted tone to it as winter gave way to spring. What is happening outside of our doors right now is completely normal, and nothing to be ashamed about, rather something to be embraced.
"Did you see my tweet?" asked Heather as I came home from my second walk around the neighborhood to collect emergent recyclables.
"No, I didn't," I said. "What did you tweet?"
She grabbed her iPhone, swept her finger this way and that, and proudly thrust it toward me.
"The chives are up!" she declared with unfettered and careless abandon.
Heather gets tremendous joy from getting out in the garden, and the emergence of these green shoots amid the muck and melting snow is a clear sign that spring has indeed arrived.
I get tremendous joy from being able to slowly meander through the neighborhood, eyes down, scanning the path in front of me for glints of sun bouncing off aluminum, or the familiar shape of discarded water bottles or crinkled and crushed cans, lying flat on the pavement. Circumnavigating the block, I collected an impressive number, almost filling the large shopping bag I had grabbed on my way out the door.
I'll go out several more times today, as everything has slowed down on this Easter long weekend, commitments and responsibilities having dissipated, gifting us with precious time.