Midwesterners know spring can be a cruel tease. Many have resorted, when possible, to consuming it in two parts.
The first involves the great migration down Eisenhower's roadways, which descends in earnest with the family minivans and Tahoes hurtling their most prized possessions at avoidably dangerous speeds. Ah, spring break.
The second is experienced in fits and starts, bringing out shorts and T-shirts one day and winter coats and curse words the next.
Part One, poolside, Orlando, Florida: The sight of pasty, amorphous bodies slathered in cheap sunscreen, guzzling overpriced frozen piña coladas, yelling at their kids to get down from the 20-foot waterfall cascading into the pool is a balm to a wintered soul. A hefty, 40-something-year-old man struts by, carrying a life-sized inflatable alligator. A busty, auburn-haired woman reads “Key Lime Pie Murder” on a lounge chair. A middle-aged dad with a thick ring of dark, curly hair clasping only the sides of his head, who dons several gold necklaces and a gold watch while swimming, flings a football the length of the pool, barely missing the head of a teenage girl. My son picks up a stranger's Frappuccino and takes a long swig.
Part One, continued: And yet this is faux spring. Midwestern practicality knows gold from brass, or at least at one point we likely did. Vacationers will return to weeks of cold, gray, wet days. It will even snow again. Much of our spring will consist of the detritus of fall thrust into view: browned grass, leaves and branches strewn about, clods of earth thrust upward, and remnants of the final fall play days: rakes, shovels, a random glove, an assortment of balls.
Part Two, Anywhere, Indiana: Eventually – eventually – there will be a day that climbs into the low 60s, upper if we're lucky. The sun will shine and the wind will kick and, remarkably, as Basho put it, our little villages once again will be flooded with children. Our favorite park will swim with activity, with bicycles and baseballs, shorts and mud shoes.
The daffodils and tulips will open overnight, quick and bright, and the songs of birds and mowers will return, as will the urge to plant anything and everything that could conceivably grow here. May will still deliver days with highs in the low 50s, but the ball is rolling, the rivers are moving, and nothing can stop it now.
Springtime, Indiana has returned.
Jason Beer is a local high school teacher.