Spring is upon us at last, it seems, fingers crossed and no takebacksies, Ma Nature. We were beginning to wonder if it would ever get here, seeing as how we had to break out the jacket once again last weekend when a front pushed through and had us rushing to switch back on the heater. This weather! Seems like when The Observer was a kid, it wasn't like this. One or two snowy afternoons in the wintertime, one or two 100-plus degree days in the summertime, and mostly OK in between, plus or minus a few tornadoes and an ice storm. These days, though, it seems like everything is going nuts. We fully expect to have a few more of those skyscraper-wilting heat waves this summer, with Little Rock looking more like Death Valley than a Southern city hovering in the generally mild zone between the Midwest and the miasma of Louisiana. If our fair burg follows the trend of past years and breaks the all-time heat record several times in July and August, The Observer may have to either live underground or think about moving someplace cooler, like Brazil.
That, however, is all in the future for now. Sweet spring is, for the moment, here. Outside our window as we write this, the day is sunny and cool. The Farmer's Market down by the river started up today, with the promise of fat, succulent strawberries and tomatoes. We love the winter — the antlerized trees and bonfire-worthy nights that remind The Observer so much of growing up winters down in Saline County — but by the time that silver-skirted maiden is out the door, we're always glad to see her go. Always glad to see her smiling sister, arrayed in honey and green.
Sorry, Summer. The Observer's dance card is full for now. We'll catch you later.
The Observer's Lovely Bride had a wreck the other day, not a bad one, but a wreck. She was motoring slowly down Capitol Avenue with Junior in her Honda — forever known as Black Phillip, worthy successor to Green Phillip, who perished in the great Pike Avenue Crash of 2010 — when a young girl in an SUV pulled up to a stop sign on Booker Street, stopped, then motored on, right into Spouse's path. When The Observer got to the scene, we saw that Black Phillip was fixable but well and truly busted, bumper dang nigh ripped off, one eye smashed, the hood wrinkled and a sad, steaming puddle of coolant growing between the front tires.
The other driver, a young lady still in high school, was nearly inconsolable. A softball player, she'd been lost and looking for Lamar Porter Field when she came to the stop sign at Capitol and Booker and then motored on. Spouse had calmed her down by the time we got there, doing everything but make Junior turn pirouettes to show they were OK, but the young motorist was still sniffling and puffy with tears, looking very young and worried and small. The Observer wanted to say: We've been there, sister. We wanted to tell her about standing in a ditch at her age with our own Old Man, staring at wreckage, and being told: "This is why we buy insurance." But we didn't. Sometimes, it is best to remain a bystander.
When the young lady's parents showed up, they asked after the welfare of Spouse and Junior and looked at The Observer with pained, apologetic grins. Later, after the tow truck had hauled Black Phillip off to glory, the girl's mother would thank Spouse with tears in her eyes for being so nice to her daughter after the accident. The idea that she had worried anything less would happen made The Observer's heart hurt a bit for what our society has become.
That thank you was still in the future, though. In that moment, they clustered around their crying daughter and enfolded her, she clearly a little girl again in their minds, she clearly a little girl again in her own mind, and everyone involved seeking comfort. The Observer, whose sole remaining soft spot seems to be people expressing love and relief, had to look away.
Junior was nearby, surveying the damage — Black Phillip's smashed grin and chipped paint. Staring at the car, we clapped an arm around Junior's broadening shoulders, and said: "This is why we buy insurance." Then we snuck in a hug, just like when he was 5.