You can practically hear the sproing, sproing, sproing of spring springing to life all around us as all the pretty flowers poke up their pretty heads in bloom and the meadowlarks sing their happy Spring song and Mr. Sun winks at us from his happy place in the beautiful blue sky.
No wait, sorry, that’s a Disney cartoon.
These days, our spring doesn’t sproing as much as splat.
Our spring consists of mucky flooding and dirty streets, snow mould, allergies and plugged sinuses that a shovelful of antihistamines can’t touch.
But when I was a kid, springtime meant two wonderful things: riverlets in the street gutters and rubber boots.
How many blissful hours did my buddies and I spend floating toothpicks and matchsticks and twigs down those tiny springtime street-rivers?
We would see if we could float our ships all the way to South School – which, of course, made us perpetually late for school.
We would have races over the little waterfalls and around the miniature ice flows, trying to fish out our mini-boats before they disappeared down the drain at the street corner. Which of course happened when you finally got a really good stick-boat.
And spring meant digging out our rubber boots, and stomping on every perfect window-pane frozen puddle we could find.
Frozen street-puddle crunching is an addictive pastime. Like eating potato chips, you can’t stop at just one.
And we became professional waders.
We would shuffle our rubber boots into the larger deeper puddles and the creeks – ice cold water that you could feel right through your boots.
We would wade as far in as we dared, and more often than not that meant getting a bootfull of that icy water on account of most of us had folded the tops of our rubber boots inside out, making a trendy grey collar around the top of our shiny black, red-soled kickers.
I can still see us standing there in the water, wobbling on one leg like a flock of deranged pink flamingoes, emptying out bootfulls of freezing muddy water, trying not to fall over into the murky mess.
Soaked socks hung off our frozen feet like dead fish. Good times.
Nowadays though, adult-spring just means a few days of melting muddle before the next unexpected “unseasonable” snow storm.
You can hardly take your cabin-fevered dogs out for a simple walk around the block without involving a dozen portages over backed-up puddles the size of Pine Lake, carrying two wet muddy dogs over the ponds, the water sloshing in your shoes because you don’t own rubber boots anymore. And if you’re really lucky this time, someone won’t zoom by in a large truck, roaring through the puddle, soaking you with a splash the size and force of Niagara Falls.
And spring doesn’t just mean getting soaked and finding a houseful of dirty pet paw prints. It means a fortune in windshield washer fluid.
When we humans are not walking dogs, sleeping, watching TV or eating, we are driving. And springtime driving means emptying the windshield washer fluid bottle as rapidly as we empty the gas tank.
Every three seconds – squirt, squirt, squirt goes the windshield squirter; flap, flap, flap goes the windshield wipers.
It’s all we can do to concentrate on actually driving when we have to talk on our cellphones and manage the constant windshield squirting.
And this makes our daily commute even longer and more complicated on account of we have to stop every several blocks to refill our windshield washer squirters.
So maybe one of these yucky mucky spring days we should all leave the car parked, the windshield fluid in the trunk, grab a few toothpicks from the house, break them in half, leave the dogs at home and go out in search of a nice gutter riverlet.
Oh, and we can’t forget the rubber boots.
The kind with the folded down tops.
We just might want to go stomping and wading too.
As long as we keep an eye out for Niagara Falls.
Harley Hay is a local filmmaker and freelance writer.