Pardon me. Itís spring, dangit. How can I think of much else?
Spring makes a young man restless, boisterous and bristling with barely-contained anxiousness. Of course, Iím not really a young man any more, Iím kinda in that awkward in-between stage. What would you call that? The youngiddles?
Oh, but spring is in the air, and it seeps into the pores of my skin, permeates my lungs and gets to my blood when I inhale it! This is the greatest time of year. Buddy of mine brought me some wild onions he dug out of his yard, the real wild onions, and Iím going to plant them at my house because I miss them. No doubt about it, these are true wild onions, they smell like it and taste like it. I traded him for some red irises we dug up at my bayouside.
You know, things like that remind me sometimes when I get down in the mouth about the price of gas, political buffoons, things I need to do to finish the house, or just those youngiddles-specific cases of the "I wants," of just how good I got it. I got friends, not multitudes, but what I got are the kind that understands the value of wild onions and irises; buddies who appreciate good cypress and mahogany, two fingers worth of highland; brothers, in spirit, some of whom may not know a wet fly from an emerger, but can spot a dry-running, low-draught hull from a mile away.
Whatís the value of wild onions and red irises? Not a dang thing in terms of stocks and bonds. Whatís the worth of a yellow Lab puppy? Nothing, wonít put gas in the tank or keep the lights on. How do you measure the importance of wild muscadines, speckled-belly geese and flat-topped lilies on a soft, shiny lake? You canít, if your yardstick, scale or thermometer is marked only in increments of dollars and cents, status and stature.
Shoot, maybe I donít know what Iím talking about. Maybe itís easy to spout such esoterica when you exist on that fringe of genteel society, fitting in with neither the scalawags nor socialites. But in spring, I know Iím blessed. Moan as I do for "stuff," when I consider the false-garlic growing through the yard with white-topped, yellow-starburst centers and a 12-week old splash of straw-colored puppy racing through them at lightning speed, well, itís just all fine, isnít it? Itís just stuff.
Spring, you see, doesnít go inside concrete and steel buildings. It canít. It doesnít want to. You can only find spring under sky and over earth. It doesnít travel highways, it wonít fly coach and it chokes on Whoppers and Big Macs. Spring, you can well imagine, doesnít cotton to fluorescent light, and will absolutely shudder over a treeline broken by a cellular phone tower, a gin-clear stream dissected by a pumping station. Spring doesnít show affection to automobiles, briefcases, neckties with pictures of cartoonish fish on them or Starbucks coffee cups; it cuddles with just-hatched bluejay chicks, races along in spiraling flight with monarch butterflies, crazily chases purple martins, plays hide-and-seek with red squirrels between the limbs of live oaks and rests quietly during the moonlit night as owls and crickets sing lullabies.
Iím lucky. Though Iím forced to live in this crazy, mixed up world for eight hours a day, even more sometimes, I can at least escape it to ruminate with friends about good dogs, crab traps, doorframes and case moldings over a cigar and a nip. Thereís no fluorescent bulbs in my house, no concrete and very little steel. Spring is welcome there, and it comes in for the duration.
Yes, Iím lucky because I may spend a buncha time and money training a little puppy to be a grown-up bird dog and, next November, go out to a) shoot a limit of three timberdoodles, for an average of about 18 ounces of game dressed out or b) not see a single bird and the dog will be looking at me like, "Well, now what, Ace?" But as Havilah Babcock noted, "My health is better in November," because itís not about the birds any more than itís about the fish: Sure, itís great to get a bird or two when bird hunting, and itís sweet to catch a fish now and then when fishing, but you know, folks like us would be out there anyway.
But thatís fall, far and away from the spring of right here, right now. Heck, I know most of yíall good folks have either quit reading this four paragraphs ago or are shaking your heads at the poor misguided fool writing it. "If people donít occasionally walk away from you shaking their heads, youíre doing something wrong," John Gierach said, and well, there you go.
This is the time of year for planting wild onions, red irises, mint, tomatoes, basil, peppers and muscadine grapes. Herein, the season for running crawfish and crab traps and trot lines. Or just venturing out to watch the tender green buds emerge from the tips of the tree branches, find a flowering blackberry, maybe just sit on a park bench and watch the day go by.
Doesnít matter what it is you like. Go do something out of concrete and steel. Go breathe spring. Play tennis. Plant a flower garden. Take a walk down a park path not made of cement. Get out there, get some of the magic before itís all gone.