Often in those first few heady days of growing warmth there was still snow and ice along the sidewalks and streets, left over from the long and cold winter. As it finally melted away it glistened in the sunshine as its dripping rivulets became tiny streams that ran along the curbs, formed puddles and eddies, searching, searching for the river down below. Sometimes the current was strong enough to float twigs or old leaves in the water, like little boats on their way to some destination unknown. We stomped on the thin ice layers that formed above the running water and they broke away, shattering with a satisfying crunchy sound. Meanwhile, above our heads, the first buds were cautiously appearing on the old oaks and maples. But we were mostly concerned with what was down below.
Despite the lingering cold we shed our jackets, left them lying on the muddy grass or hanging from an old fence post. Isn’t it an odd thing that 48 degrees in spring feels warm, while the same temperature in late November brings on a chill? We explored all of the hidden paths we used to navigate from yard to yard and block to block. We knew them all, could find them in the dark, low fences that divided backyards, worn paths through fields, where certain gates were, what was the best way to scoot along someone’s home so you wouldn’t be seen. It was a kind of sacred and arcane knowledge that gave us access to a mysterious and secret world where only we could dwell. Our galoshes were caked with mud as we tramped along, often holding sticks we had acquired along the way.
We talked bravely of things we had seen and done, we recalled memories of summers past and riding the waves at the beach, we worried about school and friends and girls. We imagined what we might one day do and who we might be. We took our time, we climbed trees with low hanging branches, testing our dexterity and derring-do. We stopped for snacks under an old pine, the remnants of candy bars carefully wrapped in wax paper tucked away in our pockets. Before long the streets would be lined with leaf filled trees. Summer would stretch before us, its weeks to us like an endless ribbon of warm days and adventures yet to come. But for now it was spring, and that was more than enough.