George Smith: The signs of spring maybe ...
Mar 10, 2013 | 3757 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“Spring … it’s sitting up there on the hill just waiting to come down.”Julia Burton
* * *

Mrs. Burton, one of the smartest persons I’ve ever known, tells me that every February.

One of 10 kids raised on a Chambers County farm, Julia doesn’t put a lot of stock in modern day meteorologists (read James Spann), dismissing their prognostications with:

“Don’t know what they’re talking about.”

And on those occasions when Mr. Spann misses by say a mere three degrees, she has three words:

“Told you so!”

What she does believe is that she’s never in her 78 years known anyone (living or dead) who hates cold weather as much as I do.

It is when she walks in and sees me in my recliner with the heat on high and cowering under a blanket, that she attempts to comfort me in my misery. She assures me that spring, indeed, is “sitting up there on the hill just waiting to come down.”

Now, a couple of things Mr. Spann may not believe.

In Punxsutawey, Pa., there lives a groundhog by the name of “Punxsutawey Phil.” Legend is that when he crawls out of his burrow and sees his shadow, we’ll have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, he’s in tune with Mrs. Burton. Spring, indeed is up there on the hill waiting to come down.

Then there’s an old friend of mine, John Johnson. John sent me an email back in early February. John, like Mrs. Burton, puts more trust in folklore than in latter-day technology. His email, in part:

“I just heard a flock of Canadian geese on the move. That means an early spring. This is by far the earliest I’ve heard them in 31 years here.”

He also puts more faith in the signs from above than signs from below:

“Puxsutawney Phil isn’t reliable any more. He’s yanked from his hole on February 2nd whether he wants to appear or not and that’s not the way it should work. We’ve messed up a perfectly good old wives tale with modern media overkill.”

I’m giving John a pass on his backhanded slap at me (media overkill), but in his sighting of the wild geese heading north there is a brotherhood of sorts.

In a memory …

I am standing with my grandfather, the late Rev. George Cobb, in his front yard in Choccolocco Valley. It is a mild day and high in a cloudless sky, there is a flock of Canada geese. They are honking and flying in a perfect “V” formation.

From my grandfather, the absolute surety of …

“Spring’s just around the corner.”

The rest of the story?

On hill or around the corner, I have spent the last couple of weeks waiting for spring’s arrival.

Wednesday morning, at 6 o’clock, it is 31 degrees with a chilling 10-mph breeze out of the west. It is obvious Puxsutawney Phil is a quack and the geese have problems with the compass.

It is now into Saturday afternoon out on Arrow Avenue, the temp is a balmy 68 degrees and sunshine covers the patio. The forecast (from Intellicast) is for 70 degrees and more sunshine Sunday.

At the moment, Puxsutawney Phil looks like James Spann in a fur coach and the wild geese again have my absolute faith.

Also, on a mid-week drive to Ashville there were Yellow Bell and Bartlett pears in bloom. And it seemed as if my toes and fingers, icicles since Labor Day, were on the thaw.

Happy days are here again … maybe.


George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or email:

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