This is why making it through January and February in Chicago (and other places dealing with snow and cold) is such a huge deal. You want to sigh and just say, "We did it." It's March, the start of meteorological spring (it counts!). There is a light on the horizon (and not just because we have an hour+ more daylight than we did in December). By the end of this month I'll be outside, elbow deep in my garden. Buds will appear on my magnolia tree. Decorations in pastels will adorn houses. Ants return to invade my house.
In Like an Ant...
My husband Scott is on strike. Maybe it's a mission, I can't tell, but here's the gist:
1. He refuses to complain about winter
2. He refuses to listen to anyone else complain about it or of being cold, or the snow, or the darkness
He figures, we choose to live here, so accept the weather as part of the deal. Why spend time and energy complaining about these things? According to him, if you know to dress appropriately and use layers, you won't get cold. I have to admit, he's on to something...
Well, I hate winter, but mostly because I don't go outside, and I love being outside. I get cold despite layers and silk long johns, but I have stopped complaining about it (OK, I try to). This Christmas when we ventured downtown to the Kristkindle Market, my shivering son Sam looked up at me and said, "Mom, I think I am allergic to winter". I totally understood. (Would you believe fellow blogger Nina said this same sentence in her blog Wednesday?)
I hate to admit, my first sure sign of spring is seeing those damned ants. Not a robin or Cubs spring training, not that faint whiff of spring on the wind, not even the email I got from Capannari's, our local ice cream shop, announcing its opening in 2 weeks (yay!). No. It's that tiny little ant scuttling across my floor that makes me say, "oh look, spring".
I am not sure if this is a local phenomenon or what, but in my 'burb, spring means ants. In the city, we had an opossum, a raccoon and birds actually enter our apartment, but never ants. It's an invasion here. Little ants everywhere (ugh, shudder). They find every morsel and take it away (maybe I should just accept them as my mini house keepers). Our neighbors all get together and complain about ants and trade stories and remedies. We all have them here.
God forbid they find something that spilled or other edible treasure, you have that horror when dozens scatter in 100 directions (I swear I can hear that high-pitched insect movie music when this happens). It draws the kids in to see their crazy mom yelling like the Dad in "A Christmas Story" (literally, "frick n' frack'n ants & bleep & blapin' ants") swatting at 100s of 'em.
My murdurous rampages are so humorous to Scott, he says that somewhere within their colony, the ants have erected "Wanted" signs with my picture on it, with just HER written in red underneath.
I teach my children to respect the value of life. We save spiders and bugs and take them outside to be released, sometimes amid shivers of disgust, but we do it anyway. We do a little ceremony and mourn when one of our cats kills a mouse (well, I do for the kids' sake, but inside am glad I don't have to worry about mice in the house too). Oh, we hunt and kill those ants. I have come to accept the double standard that when we see this bug, we kill it. I have already killed three four five making their way across my desk as I sit typing. Gross!
Still, I'll be damned if those ants ruin my pure joy at this season of rebirth, warmth, and blossoming. If the swarm gets to overwhelming, I go outside. In the sun. We live here not because of this weather, but in spite of it, and spring always reminds me WHY I do. Let us celebrate that we've made it. Sure, there'll still be snow, but it's a spring snow, and that's different.
Even though he thinks I am obsessing about it (I SO totally am), I shall give the final word about our new season to Scott, "I'm no botanist, so exposed flesh is my harbinger of spring." I'd marry him all over again.