I saw my first robin the other day - it was dead."

This sentence has been in my typewriter for two weeks. I was hoping that, like winter, it would go away. But it wouldn't. I read it to my secretary, Jeannie, who told me it would be a mistake to use it. She said I'd only be contributing to the depression the country is already in because of the weather.

"You should write about spring," she told me.

"What's spring?" I asked her.

"You know, when the buds show up on the trees and the grass turns green and people throw off their overcoats and start mulching their lawns."

"I think I remember it," I said. "Isn't that the time when windows are opened and girls and boys fall in love, and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land?"

"And birds sing," she said, "and dogs romp, and children daydream, and they pick up the garbage on the days they're supposed to."

"It's coming back to me," I said excitedly as I sat at the typewriter. "I can almost smell it. I can smell... wait... can smell cherry blossoms."

"Of course you can. And you also can smell roses and hyacinths and clover."

"Clover," I cried. "How could I have forgotten the smell of clover?"

"It's been a long time," she said. "Anyone who has lived through this winter would have forgotten the smell of clover."

Quiet," I said, playing my fingers across the typewriter. "I think I hear the sound of a babbling brook."

"You do, you do," she said. "It is a babbling brook beside a waterfall."

"Are my ears deceiving me? Is that the buzz of a bee?"

"Of course it's a bee. A beautiful honeybee alighting on a flower. Close your eyes for a moment and think back, back."

"It's so hazy. How far back should I go?"

"Go back to last April."

"I can't go back that far. There's too much slush and ice."

"Concentrate, Concentrate on last April."

"The ice and slush are melting. Yes, I see a bush."

"What kind of a bush?"

"A lilac bush - a whita lilac bush."

"Write it down before you forget it."

I typed it out. Then I said, "there's dew on the hedges. Silver droplets of fresh morning dew."

"Are the dogwoods in bloom?" she asked me.

"What color are dogwoods?"

"White, pink and red. Don't forget the dandelions."

"It's all there. It's coming back to me. I see virgin forests wearing their new spring colors. And over there is a host of daffodils."

"That's spring," Jeannie said. "You haven't lost it. You've still got it in your breast."

"There's more," I told her. "I see girls in skirts and blouses strutting in high heels and silk stockings along the nation's byways."

"That's lust, but it's also spring," she said.

"Can I write it down?" I begged.

"Yes," she said, "because it goes with spring."

I finally opened my eyes and looked out the window. Wet globs of snow were falling outside, and the cold wind was whipping them around in a whirling dervish.

It was Washington's 10th snowfall of the year.

The spell was broken. I ripped out the paper from my machine, put in a fresh piece and started out all over again. The first sentence came out automatically.

"I saw my first robin today - it was dead."