My wife and I welcomed spring last week as we did last year — by opening the French doors onto the porch, then inviting our teenage son to play his cello while we sipped second cups of coffee.
Twenty years ago, when my wife and I were new to each other, spring weekends often meant listening to Vivaldi over breakfast. “The Four Seasons” seemed like a good soundtrack for March Sundays back then — violins humming from the stereo while sunlight tinted the room with a warmth we’d waited all winter to see.
Little really stopped us from enjoying Vivaldi’s slow march across movements, the sun’s leisurely progress through the day.
Having children changed all that. “Sesame Street” replaced Vivaldi as the weekend theme, and youngsters tugged us through hours that blurred with the urgency of things undone.
The kids tug less insistently these days. Our daughter lives her college life, while our son, like most teens, not only tolerates distance from his parents but seeks it out.
Occasionally, in the odd weekend time when the shopping’s been done, the lawn’s been mowed and everyone in the house can find a clean shirt, my wife and I notice the old quiet coming to rest between us, the space we once filled with music.
Which is why I asked my son to fetch his cello, bring it near the front-porch rockers, and play us something grand.
He chose “The Wearing of the Green,” an old Irish ballad he hasn’t quite mastered. The bow grew hoarse as it glided across the strings, the tune tentative, a little like spring itself at this time of year.
Our yard wears its own green unevenly this month. Clover sprouts from turf grass still trying to shake itself awake. Dandelions pop up here and there like periscopes, as if the earth is rising from its winter dormancy, hoping to see what there is to see. The dog suns himself on pavement now warm enough to enjoy.
In the cycle of seasons, my wife sees a growing list of chores. After our son’s impromptu concert, she assigned herself the task of scrubbing winter’s grime from the outdoor furniture. With bucket and brush now at easy reach, she decided to tackle a few windows, too.
Chastened by her industry, I placed myself under house arrest at the dining room table, poring over the papers we’ll need for this year’s taxes.
I have other things to keep me busy. Strange stirrings across our bedroom ceiling last week led me to the attic, where I spotted a squirrel setting up house. Then I saw her youngster peering above a rafter.
A man has come to trap our visitors and seal the attic against any more of their kin.
But I must wonder, at the close of a glorious March, what self-respecting squirrel would want to stay inside.
Danny Heitman is on Twitter, @Danny_Heitman.