Out the door, a few steps across the yard, a deep breath and I know it has arrived. Spring, lovely spring.
Not according to the stars, of course, but springtime is upon us here, just the same. And none too soon. The mild winter in this part of the Arkansas River Valley was reluctant to leave. Like a stud player with a weak hand and dwindling chips, winter hung around taking another card, then one more, trying for a lucky draw. In most years, the game is over by mid-February and my neighbors are setting tomato plants by March 1.
It didn't happen that quickly this time. Days in the upper 50s, nights in the mid-30s reminded us that nature dances to her own beat. But a sudden 70-degree afternoon in late February broke winter's back with a resounding snap. Then came a last cold front, driving a wave of killer storms well east of us and setting up Jack Frost's curtain call.
Three late frosts were mere parting insults by a toothless winter that bit no deeper than 16°F, summoned fewer than half a dozen mornings below 20° and conjured just three instances of visible snow, only two of which whitened our earth. A quarter-inch in December, one inch as January departed and no significant icing any time. The power stayed on, linemen drew no overtime pay.
Firewood on the hearth now had no purpose. I carried it back outside, where half a rick remained untouched, stacked by the house since fall. It will serve another season.