SideLines: Spring is a marvelous time to be alive

It is Saturday afternoon. The air is a little crisp and, despite 50-degree temperatures, there are still those stubborn little mounds of snow that refuse to melt, the last remnants of a winter that didn’t want to go away.

But it doesn’t matter.

The sun is out in all its glory, bright and strong and youthful, washing all the drabness away, in one of the first true days of spring.

Work is done for the week. Except for laundry and church and maybe a trip to the grocery store, no one needs anything from me. I can sit back and re-read “Cannery Row” by John Steinbeck, a spring ritual I formed many years ago. Or I may watch something called “Cowboys vs. Aliens,” which is free on HBO this weekend.

Two squirrels are chasing each other over the front lawn and up the maple tree at the side of the house. I can hear an impromptu chorus from unseen birds and children and dogs calling out to me to join them.

Next door, a 12-year-old boy, who seems to grow a foot every time I see him, and his 5-year-old sister are kicking a soccer ball against the chain-link fence that encloses their yard, separating their lives from mine. Like me, both are clad in brightly-colored T-shirts; unlike them, I need a light sweater over mine.

The two times I dash outside, the neighbor’s ever-watchful Chihuahua loudly reminds me that I have not been invited into their little game or their world. Not that I would join them if I had.

Inside, my cat is curled in a neat, contented little ball inside the tan plastic clothes basket on the easy chair in the living room. I set the basket there three weeks ago, intending to return it to its rightful place downstairs, when Smokey claimed it for her own.

Until I get company, it will remain there. I have my bed; it’s only fair she should have hers, since the house is as much hers as it is mine. I have, of course, replaced the clothes in the basket with an old pinkish blanket she used to sleep on, and still does.

As I sit in the wooden rocking chair across from her, a wave of sunshine sweeps through the room with more than just light, but a feeling as contagious as it is inspiring.

Have you ever noticed, at this time of year, how the sun hangs in the air like it’s enjoying itself so much it doesn’t want to set? I know that’s silly, but I’m in a silly kind of mood.

This is one of those days when middle-aged men are reminded of things they haven’t thought of in too long. Life can be a wonderful, even magical, thing if you let it. Work and bills and nagging little health issues and whatever is bothering you can take a backseat to what is really important. It is a marvelous thing to be alive, an experience mere words can’t begin to describe. It’s something one definitely shouldn’t miss out on.

I am reminded of a line in an old Bruce Springsteen song: “It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.”

It is spring – finally.

And I’m feeling it.

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