Two freak winter weather events in December and now we’ve had a February week that can best be described as balmy. Temperatures have skirted right past 80. Daffodils are blooming. Birds are twitter-fittin’. The lawnmower will sputter back to life today after just a couple months’ hibernation in the barn.
The azaleas are holding back, but barely. You can almost hear their anticipation. Another day or so like this and they’ll burst forth with reckless abandon. Pinks and fuchsias will proliferate in a display of color that will be almost unseemly in its boldness. The peach blossoms didn’t wait. They never do, the little minxes.
It’s one of those days that calls for outdoor projects and long walks. It’s one of those days that calls for bikini tops and lemon-juice streaks, no matter that I’m closer to the half-century mark than I’d care to admit. It’s one of those days that promises dirt, sweat, and a little porch-sitting. Rays of sunshine reach between the shade trees and I can all but see the blades of grass stretching up to kiss the warm light.
Mama Opal called days like this Fool’s Spring. She’d say there’s always a good chance of another cold snap or two clear through Easter. “Don’t you go rushin’ yer maters and squash. It ain’t nothin’ but a fool’s spring. You just hold yer horses. Old Man Winter ain’t done with us yet.” Now, I’d never presume to argue with Mama Opal’s wisdom, but she was a North Alabama farm wife, and I’m living down here in Coastal Alabama. We’re not in the same seed catalog region, and I’m not exactly a spring chicken anymore.
My husband’s granny, however, spent her life in Lower Alabama. I am fortunate enough to have been the recipient of not two, but three good size doses of grandma-style earthy wisdom thanks to a rather fortuitous marriage and the blessing of generations of strong-minded women. I never heard Granny G use the term fool’s spring, but she advised me to look to the pecan groves as sure signals of when we’ve left winter behind. Pecan groves are a fixture in Coastal Alabama. There’s something absolutely mesmerizing about the geometric beauty of a well-maintained orchard. Granny G said that until you can see the green haze of growth in the pecan trees, the danger of a frost has yet to pass.
It’s one of those days where I’ll be scanning the pecan treetops, sniffing the green aroma of fresh-cut grass, and enjoying the warm sunshine atop a hay bale. It’s one of those days I’ll think of Mama Opal, Granny Porch, Granny G, and my own mother gone too soon. I’ll bask in the warmth of their love that reaches me as surely as the caress of sunbeams in this February Fool’s Spring.