Temperatures this week in Denton, Texas, pushed ever so close to the 90-degree mark.
In spite of a long-standing household rule that air conditioning systems are never turned on until May 1, cool air has been flowing from the vents for the past three days. A similar rule exists for heat—no heat until Nov.1. (It occurs to me that for several decades no one has paid the slightest attention to either of these rules.)
I could be wrong, this being Texas and weather here being as capricious as dandelion seed in a dust devil, but I think winter has gasped its last cold breath. As I say, things could turn chilly again before the oppressive heat of a Southwest summer overwhelms us and stirs fond memories of those bitter cold days of February. April cold snaps are not uncommon—just ask a wheat farmer. But for now, I’ll rejoice in the pleasant warmth of spring sunshine, colorful flowers and the first pale-green leaves that turn the beige landscape into a more verdant hue.
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I know it’s spring.
For one thing, I’m still recovering from my first sinus infection of the season. That little scratchy feeling in the back of my throat several weeks back is as accurate a predictor of coming springtime as the most meticulous meteorologist. It happens every spring. Sometimes it happens every three or four weeks. Last year’s annual assault on my sinus cavities lasted well into June. Pollen, my doctor says, is the culprit. Much as I admire that pale-green foliage, the blooms that precede it come with a cost.
Birds tell me it’s spring. The female cardinal, for instance, that perches in the redbud tree outside our bedroom window making come-hither calls to her more brightly-colored love interest informs me every morning—about dawn—that spring is in the air and that nests need building.
The diminutive house finches, the muted brownish females and their red-breasted male suitors, have flocked to the birdfeeders on the patio, leaving a layer of sunflower seed hulls and bird poop, not just on the floor but on the divan, the lounge chair and the top of the grill. One hopes that spring has awakened enough earthworms, beetles and other crawly things to feed them until the next snowfall, because the birdfeeders have now been stowed away for the season. One can’t have wild birds becoming too dependent.
A day or two before the no AC rule was ignored, for at least the 20th year in a row, we left the patio door open to catch a refreshing breath of cool air.
I have now received my first mosquito bite of the season. It itches just as much as I remember from last fall. I have also read the first dire warning from Denton County health officials that the first positive sample of West Nile Virus has been detected in a trapped mosquito. I trust it was an early riser and was not raised in the same foul puddle from which the pest that bit me on the ankle emerged. This weekend I will perform another annual ritual—purchase the first container of insect repellant.
I already have a tube of sunblock, purchased several days after spending an entire afternoon observing my grandsons at baseball and track practice, sans SPF protection and hatless. Another spring and I am apparently no smarter.
I seem to be complaining, but spring is one of my favorite seasons—summer and fall are the others—and I intend to enjoy the mild temperatures, the awakening earth, the annual ritual of renewal. And I’m hoping that we don’t have to break two household rules in one month—turning on the AC too early and then having to fire up the furnace one last time to offset an April freeze. Ah, the irony.