Two young women in a red convertible with the top down zipped by me when I was driving home from work Tuesday evening. Heads thrown back, sunglasses glinting with the 5:45 rays brought to us by Daylight Saving Time, they were having a grand time, laughing and singing along with the radio.
Their Mini Cooper was crusted with salt and spattered with road wash just like my CRV, but they were in the springtime groove and their anticipatory happiness was contagious.
The city streets are pocked with potholes the size of washtubs (is it me or are they worse than usual this year?) and the country roads are decorated with the traditional roadside signs warning of that distinctive northern New England condition known as frost heaves.
But I’m ready to unzip my coat and venture forth into spring, because here comes the sun, my friends.
The snowbanks are receding, the early morning songbirds are getting vocal and I’m wearing shoes to work instead of boots.
Some days there’s still red ice on the sidewalks (as hazardous to those of us who traverse Portland’s brick sidewalks as the black variety that hides on Maine roadways after whatever thawed the previous day freezes up overnight), but it’ll be gone soon.
Everything is overdue for a good spring cleaning. House. Car. Gym bag. I’m itching to replace the wool and fleece I’ve been wearing since November with cotton and linen, eager to unpack the happy season attire of sneakers, shorts and swimsuits.
Red’s Dairy Freeze in South Portland opened on Monday. Local breweries are transitioning from Porters and Stouts to lighter ales and beers.
Smelts are running and before you know it the clam shacks will open and we’ll all be sitting at picnic tables waiting for our number to be called.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Sunday is March 17. Two weeks ago, we took our holiday wreath down. Now it’s time to toss the beribboned evergreens in the ceramic pots that flank our front porch. However festive they seemed in December, the relentless wintry mix of January, February and early March has left them glum and frozen in place, two stubborn ghosts of Christmas 2018.
But mark my words. By the time the sun comes up on St. Patrick’s Day those final Christmas decorations will be gone, even if I have to use an old screwdriver to chip them out of the lingering ice.
My brilliant poet friend Alice Persons, founder of Maine’s own Moon Pie Press, wrote a memorable bit of verse about this annual ritual. With her permission, here it is:
The Wreath People
By Alice N. Persons
I’m sick of them,
these wreaths —
with forlorn red bows
they linger on doors and windows
in the strengthening sun.
There must be fifty in my neighborhood alone.
It’s almost Easter.
They have to go.
Green and fresh, in dark December
they gladdened the heart
but it’s long past time to
recycle, bury or burn.
I fantasize about roaming the streets
picking off wreaths with
silent rubber bullets.
I should get a medal from the mayor.
The Wreath People puzzle me —
they live among us, but why?
Is it laziness, inertia, an arcane ritual,
or do the dead wreaths
mark their houses for the mother ship?
From Thank Your Lucky Stars (Moon Pie Press, 2011).
Used with the author’s permission.
Happy St.Patrick’s Day, dear blog readers. Are you seeing signs of spring in your neck of the woods.? What are you most looking forward to when the snow finally melts and the flowers bloom? Do you have favorite poems about spring?
Brenda Buchanan is the author of the Joe Gale Mystery Series, featuring a diehard Maine newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. Three books—QUICK PIVOT, COVER STORY and TRUTH BEAT—are available everywhere e-books are sold. She is writing a new series that has as its protagonist a Portland criminal defense lawyer willing to take on cases others won’t touch in a town to which she swore she would never return.
Brenda, I promise to put my outdoor snowman ⛄️ rug back in the garage tomorrow. No one uses it anyway… “I hate to step on it. It’s too cute!”
Yes indeed, Reen. It’s time for the snowman rug to go into summer hibernation. How hilarious that people don’t want to step on it!
I counted 17 wreaths left hanging on a recent trip to town. Number 17 was on my own woodshed! A sadly misshapen and never decorated wreath I attempted to make last December.
Seventeen! And you yourself an offender! But the woodshed is not as bad as the front door . . .
Thanks so much for the compliment and for using my poem. I’m longing for spring and for my neighbors to take the last of the Christmas stuff down!
Thank you for graciously allowing me to reprint The Wreath People here, Alice. It’s a terrific poem!
got spring flowers for my birthday Tuesday and just had to remove 2 wreaths (one from the barn with a roof snow cleaner as too dangerous for a ladder to prop up in the ice) and pine cones all over the house. some thaw but still lots of snow to melt–still it does seem like spring is near.
Smart, smart, smart to use a roof rake to pull off the barn wreath. Ladder + ice = ER