Today I saw a drowned worm on the sidewalk, the first of the year.  I think that might be an even more powerful harbinger of spring than the warm weather we had for a few days, or the tiny green leafbuds on the tree outside my bedroom window, or even the small, red growths on the rose bush that signify leaves and blooms in the future.  I think this is my favorite time of year, even if the contrary weather is currently making things bleak and gray.  Hints and promises are all over the place, like the small green spikes of flowering bulbs, and the beginnings of new growth on my thyme plants.

Also, all the yarn scraps left over from the pom-poms on Liv’s Hat of Awesomeness (more about that later) which I scattered on my windowsill yesterday have disappeared.  I hope that the birds have taken them for nesting material, not that they’ve simply blown away.  Our backyard is very bird-heavy these days.  It’s been fun identifying them.  We have a nesting pair of cardinals – the lady is so funny looking in her deep red brown feathers with that bright orange beak.  There are also finches, both plain and rosy, (I’m kind of excited about them, because I read that they’re one of the few birds aggressive enough to chase off the ever-present sparrows) and chickadees.  The chickadees were the most difficult to identify.  It took me a while to get a good look at them.  For a while I had convinced myself that the black and white bird that kept showing up on the suet feeder was a kind of woodpecker.  Then I saw a picture of chickadees in the bird feeder catalog and immediately recognized the birds in my backyard.  Now every time I hear them sing it makes me smile.

Something else that makes me smile is my Swing Club kids.  They’ve started coming out to more of the local swing events, which has been delightful.  There’s a lot of them, so I’ve been borrowing my parents’ van to chauffeur them around.  On Saturday I took them out to the monthly dance.  They were a huge hit with the regular swing people.  They’re so young and excited and, well, innocent.  (Mark: “They’re like swing dancers before Original Sin.”)  I enjoy watching them.  They’re not the best dancers by a long shot – there are almost universal frame problems, footwork issues, etc. – but they’re learning and growing at such a pace!  Plus, they’re just so cute!  They’re very sick of that adjective, and I don’t blame them, but it fits so exactly there’s simply no other word to use.  Several of them will be taking the Balboa workshop this month, more than will fit in my car, so I’m borrowing the van every Wednesday to take them.  I can’t wait!

I don’t like cold. I really don’t. Don’t get me wrong. I understand the charms of being snuggly warm somewhere as the wind whistles past the windows. I know about nestling under layers of blankets as you fall asleep. Hot drinks in large, heat-retending mugs have a friend in me. Wool sweaters and knit tights – I’m all about that. I even have a winter hat I actually like this year. Unfortunately, I am still cold.

Cold seeps into your bones and takes away your energy. Even after you get warm again, there’s still some cold part of you that has yet to thaw. Cold lets you know every single time the hem of your shirt rides up, because the small of your back suddenly gets – guess what – cold. Cold scoffs at the wool sweaters and the corduroy pants. Cold sneers at cashmere gloves, and turns away to hide a mocking smile at flannel lined pajamas and thick house slippers. Cold cannot be defeated so easily, though he thinks it’s cute for you to try.

It’s barely the beginning of December, and already I’m tired of cold.

This is going to be a long winter.

Yesterday morning I had to scrape frost off my windshield before I could drive to work. Last night I brought the rosemary and bay plants in off the back porch to what will be their winter homes on the kitchen table. I still have the front porch plants to bring in and find homes for. I’m not such a fan of this cold thing. There are parts of Fall I love: pumpkins, weather cool enough to break out my extensive collection of colorful scarves, wearing fuzzy socks, the trees suddenly turning glorious, and bright blue days with skies so high and clear you can see the moon at noontime. What I don’t like is having to wear a coat, and fingers so stiff with cold I wish I’d worn gloves (scarves I love, but not gloves, and I’m deeply ambivalent about hats. Or at least I would be if I could ever find one that looked good on my odd-shaped head). I really dislike scraping windshields. One time a friend told me about two sweethearts who worked at the same place far up north. Every evening right before the girl was about to be done for the day, the guy would head out to the parking lot, scrape the windshield of her car, and warm in up for her so that she could get straight into a warm car when she went home. I envied that girl so much, not so much for the boyfriend (although I knew the guy in question, and he was a truly excellent young man), but simply because she had someone who would scrape her windshield for her. I was told about this over three years ago, and I’m still sighing about it. A scraped windshield is worth more than roses any day, and you all know how much I love roses.

This afternoon I’m going to an actual college football game. I’ve never been to one of these. I never really wanted to. (“What is this school spirit thing you speak of?”) But my baby brother, Mikey, is crazy for football – a strange and wonderful thing in our artistic, academic family. So we try to encourage him. This afternoon a bunch of us are piling into the family van and heading off to the game. I used to say that I only watched football games for the marching bands. An awful lot of my university’s swing club kids are in the band. I guess now I can see what has been keeping them from going dancing on Wednesday nights. The only question left is what to wear: the traditional jeans and sweatshirt? Or should I go with jean skirt, my new ultra-snuggly knit footless tights, and a sweatshirt? Decisions, decisions…

In other news, I’ve discovered what is turning out to be one of my favorite things ever: Pandora Online Radio. You type in the name of a song or artist you really love, and they create a whole radio station of music like that. You tell them whether or not you like the songs they’ve picked, and it influences the programming. It’s so much fun. I’ve found an incredible amount of good music I would have never known about this way. For example, “Baby Workout” by Jackie Wilson leads to “I Could Never Be President” by Johnnie Taylor, and “Your Replacement Is Here” by Edd Henry, then “Twistin’ With Linda” by The Isley Brothers, etc. Right now I’m listening to what I think of as my lullaby station – soothing classical-ish piano music. I made it by typing in “Brahm’s Lullaby” and finding a version by a classical artist I’d never heard of. Good stuff!

This funny thing has been happening lately.  I’ll be going along, maybe driving somewhere, maybe working on German, whatever, and without realizing it, I start humming.  It’s usually classical music, most often a snatch of Pachebel’s Canon.  Historically, I have not been much of a hummer.  (I may be a humdinger, but not really a hummer…)  I have been known to break out into random bits of song on occasion (usually swing songs), but that’s a trait I share with my whole family.  So this humming thing is new.  When it happens, though, it’s accompanied by a deep feeling of peace and well-being.  I feel happy.  I think Pachebel’s Canon may be my Happy Song.

What’s making me so happy these days?  Well, happiness is always a mystery, but I think it’s a combination of a number of things.  I’m about to move, which is huge.  I haven’t been happy with my current living situation for some time, but my current roommate is suffering from liver cancer, and I didn’t feel like I could leave her.  Then maybe a week and a half ago we had a talk, in which she told me that she doesn’t think she needs me there, which frees me up to leave.  So I am.  I’m moving in with Liv, one of my best friends, who owns a house on the other side of campus.  I’m all excited.  I’ve started my garden there already, and have started moving things in.  It’s been a long time since I was able to be really domestic in a place that felt like home.  It’s just good.

And then, there’s being all done with school papers.  I wrote two for this last semester, one 20 pages long with 71 footnotes, and the other 30 pages long with 110 footnotes.  The second one got way overdue, and became such a millstone around my neck.  It was so good to just finish the thing, and send it off to my eagerly waiting professor.

In other news, it looks like I’m going to be able to strike one more thing off my list of Things To Do Before I Die.  I’ve always wanted to ride a motorcycle, but never knew a motorcycle owner well enough to have the chance.  Then I met Zeke: tall, blonde and handsome in the high-cheekbones sort of way.  Also snarky as all get out, and not a bad swing dancer.  Also funny enough to make me laugh until I (on one occasion) wet my pants.  Also completely not interested in theology.  (sigh)  And eight years younger than I am.  But he has a thing for motorcylces and owns three.  This winter he promised me that he would take me for a ride when the weather got warmer.  It’s warm now, and we’re making arrangements for this ride.  It will be at night, on smaller roads (not the interstate), and we will go fast.  That’s all I know so far.  I’ll let you know how it goes…

I offer this small poem for your delectation.  Note: I have no idea who the author is.  If you know, you should tell me.  And with that disclaimer:

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz –
I wonder where them birdies is.
The little birds is on the wing – ain’t that absurd?
The little wings is on the bird!

Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week…