March 30, 2011

The Great Indoors

Last week, I was minding my own business, working at cleaning up dinner dishes, when I heard a massive booming noise coming from the living room. It sounded like a brontosaurus jumping on a trampoline and smashing a hole in the ceiling with each bounce while shaking a pair of maracas. How's that for a mental image?

Given that my house is not up to code for your standard dinosaur acrobatics and not wanting to see it reduced to matchsticks, I went to put a stop to the destruction before it got out of hand. I was greeted by the sight of Brady, hands braced on a table, scaling the wall with his bare feet and then pushing off and landing with a BANG. And doing it again. And again. And again.

I was intrigued, and my teeth were rattling with each impact, so I got him to stop for a second so I could find out what he was doing. "It's an exercise, daddy.", he said with a touch of condescension, as if it should be obvious, which I'm sure is the case if you're a dinosaur or a four-year-old boy. "OK," I said, "but remember that mommy likes to have the picture frames on the walls, not broken on the floor by Dr. Earthquake." He just laughed and, tickled by his new supervillain name, started in again, this time punctuating each jarring bounce with "I'm Dr. EARTHquake!!!" Way to control that noise level, dad.

Wow, I thought, spring has arrived in the Land of the Great Indoors none too soon. My kids are literally bouncing off the walls.

This winter was so long, cold, and snowy that a family of polar bears actually moved in down the block for a couple of months, apparently thinking they'd feel right at home in our frigid little corner of the world. They were the Robertsons, originally from somewhere in Alaska. Nice enough family. And it's a buyer's market, so I'm sure they got a heck of a deal. But then one day, a neighbor's dog went missing, and we saw police cars at the Robertsons' house a night or two later. Before we knew it, they were loading a moving truck. It's probably just as well; dog eating is frowned upon in my neighborhood, and they were a little weird anyway.

But now spring is here, or so it appears, and with it, a "For Sale" sign in the Robertsons' yard. We were finally able to get the kids outside without their full suits of snow armor the other day, and we saw our first budding flower, a bright yellow one. Ellie, a girly girl who loves pretty things, squatted down to admire it, and for a moment she looked like a bright little postcard from the land of spring, all golden curls and golden flowers. Then, smiling with wonder, she reached out and squished it unceremoniously between her pudgy little fingers. I had to laugh. It was good to be outside with my kids, enjoying the day.

I think of spring in mostly practical terms these days, like the fact that I no longer have to drive on sheets of ice and can now see the potholes in the road and thus avoid them, but there's still a part of me that feels spring the way a child does. It's the feeling of hope it brings, like knowing the last day of school is fast approaching. You can cruise around with the car windows down and listen to music that was popular when you were a senior in high school, and not feel old. You know the warm days and green lawns, the baseball games and family picnics are in front of you, not on the other end of the Bleak Season of Eternally Frostbitten Noses, Toes, and Fingers, more commonly known as winter. It's a good feeling. No, a great one.

So we finally get to leave the Land of the Great Indoors with much rejoicing. What's your favorite thing about spring? Did you have any families like the Robertsons in your neighborhood this winter? If so, how many family pets mysteriously vanished? What's your favorite springtime cruisin' music? I'd love to hear about it, and then make fun of you.

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