It’s officially Spring. Not that you can tell if you’re in Ohio, unless you look down. Snow drops, crocuses, and daffodils have pushed up through all manner of frozen earth, sidewalks and manmade plastic-tarped rock covered patios. The sun shone a good thirty minutes this morning before the sky covered itself as with a blanket. And yes, it was a grey blanket.
One day last week Jonah and I discovered and rediscovered respectively the meaning of bizarre and the ways Spring wears that word like a bright yellow raincoat.
The radar was clear. We put on our coats and headed to school, only to discover the sky was spitting icy rain at us. It was hard to tell if it was actually ice coming down from the sky or if the rain was just that blasted cold. The deck was slippery with it either way. We decided to brave the walk with our umbrellas as shields against the pelting drizzle. Ice falling out of the sky (not as snow) was something of a new concept to Jonah. I thought he used the word “bizarre”—which he didn’t—but my mishearing led to a discussion of the meaning of the word (from the Italian bizzarro, angry). The rain certainly felt angry, or at least aggressively indifferent to our tribulation.
I though J might catch hold of the word, but somehow he translated bizarre into awkward, as in “This weather is so awkward! I can’t believe how awkward it is!” I corrected him once, then thought better of it. Jonah has an innate sense of language that has held him relatively steady in the course of his seven years. His first word was “twah.” He used it whenever he threw something (which was often). John did his magical word origin research and discovered that an early Indo-European root of “throw” was, in fact, “twa”. When I later looked up “awkward” I read: late Middle English, in the sense of “the wrong way around, upside down”. A fair description of the some times mercurial inconstancy Spring stirs up.
We rounded a corner and found the street littered with nearly frozen worm bodies. Hundreds of them. I don’t recall there being a heavy rain the night before; but there they were, having squirmed their way to higher land—an instinctual search for safety (or at least not-drowning). We tried to dodge them as we continued to hold up our umbrellas as shields.
As we turned the next corner we were overcome by the stench of skunk (comprised of a chemical I have since learned is traditionally called mercaptans). It was strong enough that I worried we’d carry it all the way to school with us. On we trudged on, giddy with our travails. “Spring!” we laughed. “It’s so completely awkward!”
At least today the sun met us first thing. The wind was strong, blowing mini-snow-flurry squalls in and out throughout the day. Grey sky, blue sky, grey sky. Sun on black coat warm enough to make you bring your zipper down. Wind that leaves your ears red and burning ten minutes after you’ve been inside.
But yesterday the sun was a titanic fluorescent tube hung above the clouds. The sky glowed lemon-lime; I could feel it buzz, even if the frequency was too high to hear. The strangeness was communal, all of us wondering a little just what it is we’re meant to be.