Ninety in March.

March 22, 2015 § 4 Comments


Suddenly it is summer, that season as warm and damp and rich as a slice of red velvet cake.

Summer already? Not by the calendar, which tripped over the official start of spring just two days ago.

But here in Tallahassee we hit ninety during the last week of winter. Then did it again. And again.

Ninety in March is how we do spring in Florida.

IMG_8297Raised up north, I remember spring as a slow and cautious season.

Winter retreated and advanced many times before dragging its sorry self off the field.

Spring flirted with us, encouraging shirtsleeves one day, then vanishing, leaving us scraping ice off windshields and shoveling a late snow.

Winter has less bite here. We heat with wood, and for the short winter months our boxy black stove is a friendly beast that crouches at the heart of our home. We feed it, lingering on the footstool that sits in front of it, listening to its flames purr, holding out our hands.

But our fire consumes more than the wood my husband cuts daily. Although we keep a pot of water on top of the stove, the fire also consumes the moisture in the house, and in our skin. Winter is an itchy season.

With a string of days nudging ninety, the wood stove has become dark and cold and inanimate again, the air in the house kind.

The official arrival of Spring has given those in this year’s unusually-frozen north hope, and a few daffodils poking up through the snow.

Here, the illusion of spring is going strong. Full-bloom trees are decked out in a million flowers, but don’t blink. Trees clothed in flowers are doing a flash dance as Spring runs through the room.

The oaks do the quick change from winter to summer with the greatest flare and drama. Having held onto their leaves all winter, these giants are now dropping their leaves all at once, as if stepping out of a long-worn dress.

Ever efficient, while raining down leaves they are also showering cars and streets and roofs with pollen and catkins. Everyone is raking, wheezing, and sharing the camaraderie of complaint.

Bulging trash bags sit on every curb. Smart gardeners are picking up those bags and digging the leaves into our sandy soil; worms like oak leaves like we like chocolate.

Somewhere in the neighborhood a non-gardener is burning a pile of leaves, sending up acrid smoke that turns the air hazy.

Just as the north hunkers down in winter, the south hunkers down in summer. Even our early mornings simmer and people hurry from one air-conditioned oasis to the next.

But I like the balmy heat, the singing of summer insects, the three ring circus of kids on bikes, and the long days that drain so slowly from glowing twilight to ink black night.

At the end of March heavy-weight summer is just around the corner. Even now as we pick up after them, the oaks are putting on their summer garments of dark, glossy leaves.

When the heat presses down with no reprieve in sight I’ll adjust, taking my walks early and late when shadows are long and the oak canopy spills its dense cool shade across the road.

Note: Here’s a link to an earlier post about heating with a wood stove you might like.

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§ 4 Responses to Ninety in March.

  • KM Huber says:

    I suspected we were both writing about spring this week. This year reminds me of the Rocky Mountain West where winter and summer are the usual offering with autumn and spring being more in the “bonus” category. Regardless, I prefer the South.


  • craig reeder says:

    I love how you describe your wood stove as a friendly beast, sounds like how it would appear in a children’s book or Grimm’s fairy tales. Beautiful writing.


    • Most things for me are animate, not just the wood stove. I bet that’s why I write for young readers. You were the one who told me that as a kid you figured that adults forget that magic is real. I haven’t forgotten. I live in a world full of “things” with personality and, I’m pretty sure, sentience.


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