A regular critic of these footprints wrote to me this morning, and declared that they had crossed a line. The line into "mushy fluff". Actually, isn't that what footprints do? Cross lines, I mean? Anyways. I was flattered. I thought I had crossed it a long time ago.
But in an effort to counter the rosy, carpe diem attitute that I can't seem to shake, here is a wonderful little story about the bringers of spring:
Anticipation can be just about the greatest thrill you experience. Butterflies in your stomach. It's a combination of a sudden onset of a possibility, that you hadn't realized that could be coming true, the waiting for it to happen, and the danger of it not coming to pass.
Take an early onset of summer, for example. This is where, in early April, you will get a few beautiful days and you become all giddy inside and foolishly think 'Wow! Summer is about to come!' You don't care about the fact that you always get a few good days, and then it's back to late winter/early spring for another month. No. You throw the socks into the laundry bin and dig your shorts out of a box in the attic. Just to be ready. And then you scuttle about for a few days, featherbrained, until you slowly realize that you were wrong. That it was just a wonderful dream. And you come back down to earth.
The same applies to those early messengers of spring. Those playful indicators that stimulate you and fire up that anticipation of bright, warm days. Birds singing, squirrels peeking out of their winter lairs, skunks rustling in garbage, spiders busily weaving their first webs of the summer, mice scurrying about, looking for food. You can feel Nature, tossing in her sleep. A glint in her eye, as her sleep is coming to an end. So you join in. Smile at the ever-warmer sun. Carry the busy spiders out into your yard.
And then those foolish pioneers meet their fate. On the pavement. I saw my first spring roadkill this morning. It looked a little bit like a chipmunk. An ex-chipmunk, that is. Or it might have been a marsupial. It had been run over a few times, so it was hard to tell. A couple of birds were busily picking at it. It was still fresh, the heat rising from it in the cool morning air. This poor, demented thing had obviously wandered out of its burrow, thinking that summer had arrived. Not being all that familiar with the dynamics of those deadly strips of pavement that litter the landscape, it wandered in its still slumbery state onto one of them and splat!
No more spring. No more twinkle in Nature's eye. She has already turned over to the other side, snoring profusely.
I refuse to remain the fool. I am going skiing. Seeya.