It's getting to be that time of year when there's a certain sense of change in the air. A shift, which is almost imperceptible. Suddenly, the chill does not carry the same bite as deep winter. The light cast by the sun does not seem quite as harsh.
Back when I lived down below, I would wax euphoric at the realization that spring was just around the corner, and started looking for the seasonal omens to validate my belief. I used to think I could predict the way a season would be with a fair amount of accuracy, and maybe I could in that particular environment. Perhaps I was just too impressed with my intelligence, and, generally, when that happens, I tend to get a backfist of perspective, which I sometimes actively seek out.
Up here, I am more mindful of the chaotic weather patterns as the jetstream serpent slithers along the high peaks. The idea of making a prediction is almost as absurd as believing a politician's promise. I know, despite the chronological location of the vernal equinox, spring, in the flatland perception, for us is at least another month off. Maybe more, but that's just the way of it.
It has not been a bad winter in terms of cold, wind, or severe storms. In some ways, it's seemed almost like an extended late autumn interspersed with bits of early winter for spice. It's been a horrible winter in terms of snow. This late in the season, ski resorts are finally getting decent bases on their runs, but snowshoers complain the conditions are less than satisfactory out on the the trails. On walkabout, I've worn my gators, but hardly needed them. There have been omens of thaw, and I sometimes wear my mudding boots when walking to check the post. Mud, being mountain for spring.
As always, when I catch that shift, I become excited. Visions of hummingbirds and long warm days and shorts and sandals and afternoon rain dance about within the walls of my skull. I think it's the auspice of change. The cliche of renewal.
I can make my guesses of how soon it will be spring, and what the season might be like, but I've learned to not be so emphatic in my predictions. Those backfists of perspective keep me from getting too impressed with my intelligence. Here and now, the statement I'll make with confidence is the shift has come, and it is no longer deep winter.