|Just before the dawn of spring, I lost one of my favorite gloves.|
One howling night last week, when I was trying to feed a meter on a busy Philadelphia street, I dropped a glove.
Unfortunately, I neglected to rifle around in my coat pockets and note that I was missing one of the pair until it was too late—until I was already seated inside a cozy pub, gazing at flickering candles, gossiping with friends and waiting for pints to arrive—reluctant to dart back into the biting wind on what would most likely prove a frigid and fruitless search.
These gloves I had worn through at least a decade of East Coast winters—this last a particularly dreadful one—and it wasn’t quite over despite the fact that the calendar was creeping into mid-March.
The weekend before, we had gotten a break from the polar vortexes and clipper storms, with unappealing names like “Janus,” that had been tormenting our region, and much of the rest of the country, with heaps of snow and record lows for months. For a couple of days, the sun bloomed in the sky and actually warmed the earth.
Inspired, my husband and twin 7-year-olds hefted out shovels to try to break up several feet of snow that had been plowed against our sidewalks and solidified, impeding access to our minivan for weeks.
“Griffin! That’s my ice chunk,” Georgia hollered at her brother.
“It is not!” he retorted, continuing to hack away at one of the icy embankments.
With sunlight on my cheeks where I sat at the edge of the front porch, gazing at the scene with my 3-year-old, I didn’t even care, for once, that my twins were fighting—and this time with metal shovels. They were making progress. Let them take out their pent-up frustrations on the icy white stuff that had been torturing us all winter and that I naively hoped we wouldn’t be seeing any more of for a very long time.
The next day was even warmer. Jane and I knelt down to admire the slender shoots of crocuses straining their necks through the worn-out mulch in our flower beds. Nearly all the snow melted from our backyard, turning it slick with mud. Neighbors stopped by. The kids started an impromptu game of kickball, the first in several months. They gleefully squelched around in the sludge under our swing set.
“I’m stuck!” Jane cried, and when I went to pull her out, her boots remained behind.
Then Jeff and Georgia got involved in an odyssey of emptying out the contents of our garage onto our driveway—old chairs, rusty Weedwackers, leaky hoses—inspecting each new discovery before giving it a new place, back inside the garage.
“We found all kinds of treasures!” Georgia triumphantly announced, holding up a grimy Florida license plate that had adorned my husband’s Volkswagen Golf when he drove it from his home state north to college more decades ago than I care to reveal.
“It really is much more organized in there now,” Jeff sheepishly replied to one of my looks.
But even though he eventually admitted that they had accomplished little more than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, I didn’t really care. We had spent the day outside, and I actually thought I spied the faintest tinge of sunburn on our children’s cheeks before they fell asleep that night, worn out for the first time in weeks from outdoor physical activity that didn’t involve sleds.
But then Monday dawned with highs in the 20s and another blanket of snow covering the earth, freezing out any St. Patrick’s Day cheer we might otherwise have mustered. Georgia was the only one of us who even remembered to wear green, and she didn’t seem very excited about it, doing it more out of a sense of obligation than actual holiday spirit.
Later that morning, after her older brother and sister had trudged off to their warm classrooms, Jane and I took to the frozen streets to walk the dog. Periodic glacial blasts whipped our faces.
“I need it to be spring,” Jane implored. “When will it be spring?”
“Thursday,” I said, deciding this time to go strictly by the calendar and its promise of the spring equinox on March 20, though I knew I couldn’t count on the weather to cooperate.
Suddenly, Jane noticed that my mitten she was reaching for had a hole in it. I explained that a few days earlier I had lost my other, favored pair. “Well,” Jane replied, “you can borrow mine if you need to.”
And as she seized my hand with one of her red, heart-dotted mittens, I realized that my own missing glove and this evasive spring weren't so bad as long as I still had her fingers to squeeze.