Swallows

The sun shone like the canary diamond of her wedding ring, making all around Julie sparkly and vibrant, stirring in her long-buried spring, warm-weather feelings. As she stood on her patio, she raised her head and let the warmth caress her face. A lover’s kiss, she thought. As she looked up and down the block she noticed that other neighbors were aroused by the sun’s comforting warmth. Kids up along the street were out in t-shirts and shorts giggling together in outdoor games. Mrs. Krebs hung vibrant red and melon geraniums from brightly colored baskets on her patio.

The air was clean and light. Julie could breathe and feel her lungs fill to the top for once in a long while. Winter never seemed to warrant or welcome that kind of breathing. Such a reawakening it was! Her insides seemed more alive—almost dancing.

Every single place on Julie’s earth exuded this welcome freshness. She had already ventured out to Target—on the Saturday before Mother’s Day—ugh!—and it seemed the whole store had ingested the brilliance of the day: Customers and employees smiled real, well-meant smiles. There were more “Excuse me’s.” The music on the loudspeakers was bouncy, more soothing and less annoying. The guy in front of her in the long check-out line let her go ahead of him because she had a few things and his cart was packed. Even the cars in the parking lot, whether newly washed or not, sparkled like Mardi Gras Carnival beads.

“Eddie,” she said to her husband who was sitting in the kitchen having his lunch, “let’s take a trip to the nursery and get some flowers.”

“Well . . . if you want to, Jul, but Mom always said we needed at least one week of warm weather before putting out or hanging flowers.”

Drat that Eddie and his mom! It was like she was the pope of his every belief!

“How about we put out the lawn furniture and just enjoy the sun together?”

“It’s really jammed in there with lots of other junk in the garage, Jul. How about we have a walk in the park instead?”

“You’re on!” she said. It was evident that she wasn’t going to get her flowers or furniture, and strolling the park was one of their favorite spring/summer activities so she was eager to go.

As they walked the paths, while holding hands, in the park, they played “Name that Tune” trying to guess which birdsong they were hearing and even attempted to interpret what those calls were saying. They enjoyed a full menu of people watching. Their favorite—adults and children interacting with so much joy: kicking soccer balls, shooting baskets, a few lobbed tennis balls back and forth over the nets at the courts, moms and dads or grandmothers and grandfathers swinging beside kids or with children on their laps, others giving tips to or standing watch over little ones on the monkey bars, the littlest of all being rocked in strollers by adults who hummed simple songs or melodies. Idyllic, purely idyllic, Julie thought.

After the walk, Julie and Eddie had extracted one lawn chair from the jumble of junk in the garage. Julie had cleaned it off and was resting there, reading from her Kindle White while Eddie was in the house watching the news.

At supper time, Eddie said, between bites of spaghetti, “The weather man said there might be snow tomorrow. Not much, just a light dusting.”

“Hmmm,” Julie replied. She wasn’t about to spoil her mood by talking about an event that her heart told her was not about to happen.

When Julie woke the next morning, her muscles ached. She was thinking that it must be from all the exercise she had yesterday, when she looked out her bedroom window. A gentle dusting of snow covered the lawn chair she was basking in the day before. Her insides deflated with that one look.

Why does he always have to be so right? she asked herself with a sigh as she plopped back down into her bed next to her husband and covered herself with their bed quilt, as she heard her mother-in-law say, “One swallow doesn’t mean the summer is here.”

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