It’s Cleveland, it’s early April, and it’s77° as I write, heading for 80, same as yesterday. The early daffodils are bloomed out, as is the weeping cherry on the treelawn. The ornamental pear tree has burst into a cloud of white. Golden pussywillow catkins are heaped on the ground. In our postage-stamp front yard, the hyacinths, Lenten roses, and crepe myrtle are flowering in vibrant colors. Bumblebees, wasps, and flies are buzzing, with even a few butterflies flitting around. The bird feeders have been almost untouched for the last two days, although the squirrels are still most insistent about getting their peanuts. In fact, for the first time, I witnessed “flat squirrel” syndrome yesterday — a rather scraggly-looking little one sprawled on his stomach on our porch pillar, front legs hanging over one side, back legs over the other side. There’s a new bird calling that I’ve never heard before; it’s almost a mechanical sound. I don’t know whether it’s a visitor or a returnee from a warmer climate. I just put away the Easter decorations. Gaggles of children are zooming around on their bikes, and the basketballs have come out. We sat on the back deck for dinner last night, for the first time since last October. Our elderly, freeze-baby shih tzu is curled up in her bed, without her sweater and coat. This morning, as I was prepping the big pot of soup we’ll eat for the next few days, I stepped out to the herb pot next to the deck and gathered some sage and chives that had over-wintered. It’s too early to plant the tender herbs, though, no matter what the thermometer reads today.
I say that because, less than a week ago, the daffodils were bowed down by snow, and the pussywillow catkins were sprinkled with white. I’d had to grab the pansies I’d bought and shelter them in the garage. We had a not-at-all unusual late-March snowstorm; a few miles south of the city, there were whiteouts. But within two days, the snow was gone, and the mercury was on the rise. Such is the rollercoaster of our weather in the 21st century. Two days ago, in the stadium about ten blocks back from Lake Erie, we had our baseball home opener. The announcers said it had been 70° two hours before the game, but then the wind shifted around to the north, and by the first pitch, it was down to 44. The socially distanced fans were swathed to the eyebrows in layers of coats and blankets. It’s tough being an outdoor spectator in Cleveland.
It was a beautiful Easter, which, around here, means there was no snow. Actually, however, the temp was in the low 60s. Where we were camping, there was a water skier on the lake, wearing what we assumed to be a dry suit. As the water temp was probably in the low 40s, it would have been a hypothermic ride otherwise. Ditto for the lone jet skier we’d seen earlier. We saw several families climb aboard powerboats, bundled up against the wind. It had never occurred to us to pack our kayaks, but in the bright sunshine on Saturday afternoon, a paddle around the lake would have been perfectly doable in our windbreakers.
The neighbor two doors down was out working in her yard yesterday, clearing flower beds. I sat on our porch and surveyed the carpet of twigs and old leaves still covering our patch, and I debated whether to follow suit. I decided not to, because, after all, it’s Cleveland and it’s early April. Three years ago, when we were camping on April 29th, we sat in the motorhome and watched snowflakes drift down. There’s a reason that the seed packages advise waiting until late May to plant in northern Ohio, “after all danger of frost has passed.” It’s a pretty safe bet that we’ll see more white stuff before it’s time to put away the woolies for good, so we’re not stowing the shovels and uncovering the yard just yet. I’m predicting I won’t be wearing a T-shirt and flipflops by this time next week. Still, it’s deeply satisfying and uplifting to dwell in this warm, sunny bubble for a day or two. Gotta take these all-too-rare nice days when you can get them!