I know it’s only mid-March, but spring is in the air. It’s not just because Spring Training for baseball is up and running, or because the NHL regular season is coming to an end, or because there’s about 20,000 birds in my yard and its surroundings every morning. It’s mostly due to the mild winter we’ve had. It really already feels like spring.
I’ve enjoyed this winter. I haven’t used the snow blower once this season and I’ve only had to shovel snow twice, and that was more like pushing the light, fluffy snow off the driveway. It hasn’t been very cold either, with only a few days where the temperatures have been below 20 degrees. If this is the effect of global warming, then bring it on! I could handle ten more just like this one. Of course, this is from my perspective as a middle-aged man. As a kid I would have absolutely hated this winter.
The ponds near my house never even froze this winter. Well, maybe they got a thin layer of ice on the top, but they never froze enough for any winter activities. There was no ice fishing this winter, no snowmobiles racing across the ice and snow, and most importantly, no ice skating. Hockey on the frozen ponds was one of the major things that got me through winter as kid. We’d race home from school, dump the books, get our gear and get an hour or two in before it was too dark to see in front of you. On weekends we’d be at the pond from 9am until it was dark, with a quick break for lunch around noon. I don’t think there was ever a winter we didn’t get in a lot of pond hockey from November to March. That would have been unthinkable.
We also got a lot more snow than we do now. If the ponds were buried beneath a pile of snow, we’d shovel it off or use sheets of plywood and push it out of the way to make an area big enough for a decent game. Snow really didn’t stop us, unless there was just too much to move and then we’d wait a few days or a week and then move the snow. While we were waiting, we’d be sledding, building snow forts for snowball fights or playing street hockey when the road was clear. If we missed a day or two of school, even better! That left us more time to be doing fun stuff. At least it was fun then; now, not so much.
I just can’t imagine going through the whole winter as a kid and not being able to go sledding, have snowball fights or play ice hockey. Street hockey wasn’t a bad short-term solution, but it was nowhere near as good as ice hockey. If you’ve ever been hit by one of those orange street hockey balls or pucks when it is cold outside, you know what pain is. Maybe that's why we used tennis balls that had lost their bounce. Somehow, getting hit with a puck while playing ice hockey never seemed as bad as getting hit with one of those street hockey balls. Sledding down our own Mount Everest was always fun, as was the hot chocolate and roaring fire when we were done. Those were the carefree days of childhood.
But as the temperature outside climbs into the 60’s and there’s not even a hint of any snow around my area, I just have to smile. There’s no sadness here on my part. I don’t skate on the ponds anymore, I haven’t gone sledding since the kids were little and the last time I had a mini snowball fight my shoulder hurt for two days. Honestly, I’d rather be sitting on the back deck in the warm sunshine than be sitting in a cold pile of snow after slipping and falling. These are the not-so-carefree days of adulthood. Call it the year without a winter or just an early spring, it makes no difference. Spring is in the (warm) air.