Last Sunday morning, when it was spring, I finally went outside to look at the garden. The hyacinths had caved under the weight of Friday's rain, but the daffodils were still up and the tulips had finally bloomed. So had the chickweed in the vegetable garden. This is no small detail, since the chickweed is sprawling right into the strawberry bed and whoever weeds the vegetable garden is going to have to use tweezers. Fortunately, since it's been too cold to weed, I haven't had to worry about who gets the tweezers.
Every night the weathermen come on the television screen with the news that this has been the coldest April since the beginning of the world, and while it's nice to be part of history, it's been a pain in the neck to be this cold this long. I've had it with saying it's bound to get warmer soon. I said that in February, and again in March, and again one time in April, but no sooner would a warm day come along--like yesterday--than a cold spell would follow.
Not only has the great cold snap disrupted the cycle of life on the East Coast, it has also disrupted the food chain. I have not, for example, given a single thought to the vegetable garden. Ordinarily, by this time of year, I have ordered and received three times more bean seeds than we will ever use, twice as many tomato plants as we have room for, seeds for more loose leaf lettuce than I would wash in a lifetime, and the makings of more zucchini and eggplants than I would ever slice.
We have not, in fact, bought a packet of seeds. This has resulted in some savings, since ordinarily by this time of year my husband would have soaked and planted the first round of beans, which promptly would have rotted in the ground following torrential spring rains. Since we have not had to replant the beans, the cold has saved us labor and a great deal of aggravation.
Family arguments have been significantly reduced since at least two of us can't talk because of colds and sore throats. This has produced a certain family togetherness that we ordinarily don't see in the springtime when everyone is outside. One morning this week, for example, my son the teen-ager and I were in his room commiserating about how rotten we felt and sharing cough medicines, lozenges and various cold pills. I do not need to tell you, I suppose, which one of us was able to go to lacrosse practice in 45-degree weather later in the day. Youth may be wonderful, but it doesn't need to show off.
Soccer games have been something of a trial. It is not easy to yell encouragement to swarms of 7-year-old soccer players when you are standing on the sidelines, hunched into your chest, hands shoved into your pockets, and bobbing up and down on frozen toes. The parents who are pouring cold post-game drinks in this weather are candidates for sainthood.
I am sure there's some very good reason why all this is going on--perhaps it's a heavenly response to President Reagan's plot to sell the weather satellites--but I am getting tired of it. I am getting tired of winter clothes, of wearing gloves, of being unable to breathe fresh air without getting frostbite on my nose. I am getting tired of saying that freezing downpours are good for the spring flowers and I am tired of breaking the news to my children that spring doesn't really exist, and that they have to take off their shorts and put on their winter coats. It's no use taking refuge in fantasies about moving to California or Florida since people there are having a terrible time, too.
I am tired of the rain and the cold and cars that won't start, and in that, at least, I am not alone. The weather has gotten everyone. Even Princess Diana and Prince Charles found their Rolls wouldn't start after a downpour in Australia this week. I know how they felt.
I realize that patience is what's needed here. I realize that the weather is supposed to be better this weekend, and that we're not supposed to get any storms until Sunday. I realize that when spring really arrives I will have to face the chickweed and all the labor in the garden. And I realize that children will leave the doors open and flies and wasps will get inside, and people will get bee stings and poison ivy and fall off bikes and bruise their hands and knees and go through all the other rites of spring. Some weekend soon, winter will be over, and somebody is going to have to weed the strawberry bed.
Right now, I wouldn't mind.