Jim Furlong: The False Spring

We knew in our inner hearts that winter wasn’t quite over. There is lots of room in March for storms. Actually, until a few years ago the largest snowfall record in St. John’s was on a day in early April. Nevertheless, this year in mid-February there was one glorious week when the garden around our home was bare and warmth had returned to the sun of a cloudless sky.

Global Warming?

People talk about global warming being a new phenomenon, but I remember from the Books of Newfoundland a story about dandelion growing on New Cove Road in February. I myself remember a day back in the 1980s when me and a friend played tennis one glorious Saturday morning at Bowring Park on the 17th of February. There had been rain for a week and then two days of sun. There was still a bank of snow near the base line on one side of the court but it was still a lovely day.

So it was that in this year of Our Lord we were graced with “a false spring.” In mid-February the snow was nearly gone and there peeked up through the white patches the little bits and pieces of earlier times. The flotsam and jetsam of a summer gone spilling out from under the snow in mid-winter. There were eight golf balls looking up through the grass. There was a wine bottle there by the trunk of a birch tree and there was a pair of cantilevered pruning shears not retrieved during the fall clean-up.

There was also the ghost of a Christmas tree up by the shed and a small pile of birch junks that had spent the winter, not in the safety of a woodpile, but left under the snow. These things were kept company by a few empty beer tins. Passers-by must have thrown them in. There wasn’t too much junk really because we had cleaned up in late November for fear of snowblower-propelled objects flying around the property. I have over the years lost two windows (one of them on an antique vehicle) to the snowblower. It has also driven a couple of golf balls through the vinyl siding on the house. This year no damage to speak of because of our cleanup.

False Spring

Now in the sun, me and good wife tidied up outside and even enjoyed the sight of a few returning birds. Later in the summer we would again hear the call of the loon across the pond. In the afternoon sun we planned a barbecue. We still had lots of propane. It was a beautiful afternoon, so we took out two canvas folding chairs that don’t usually make an appearance until May. Then with the warm sun of a false spring on our faces and the promise of a summer ahead one of us asked the magic question of spring; “Do you want a beer?”

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