Spring in Maine is a lot like that girl in high school who wears a sweater that's just a little too tight, totters on heels just a little too high, and sways her hips knowingly when sashaying down the hall, fully aware that she's got every boy within a 50-mile radius salivating. In layman's terms, spring is a cocktease.
It's not that she doesn't mean well because she does. In fact, she means too well. She wants to give you what you want. She wants you to know how glorious she is, and figures that the best way to do this is to ration out her charms. She comes and goes, leaving you wanting more, and you do.
She starts off with the meteorological equivalent of tight capri pants and a sweater set: a few days of 40-degree weather, which to the locals feels utterly balmy. This is akin to showing some leg, and folks in Maine respond in kind by stripping off their winter clothes too. The first day of 45-degree weather, I saw short sleeves, no jackets, and in a few truly crazed cases shorts and sandals on people who obviously live far, far north and do not remember what the sun looks like. I wasn't surprised by this. When you've gone through mud season and shoveled out your driveway a dozen times since the end of November-- a foot and a half of snow each time -- your brain obviously heads to the Bahamas and you wish it a happy trip, tearing off your long johns while doing so. Everybody heads out into the still sort of thin sun and feels the wind in their hair. Look! I'm not wearing a hat! Imagine that!
Spring knows how much you needed this. She thinks, Silly boy. But he doesn't even know the half of it. I'll give him a 50-degree day and some of the snow will melt, and he'll be eating out of my palm. Here Spring unbuttons the top three buttons of her tight little blouse and gives us a little cleavage. (Spring is stacked, of course.)
And the boys go crazy like boys in spring always do. They get out on their bikes, they sweep their porches, they put away the snow shovels, they start working on their cars with their sleeves rolled up and "Dancin' in the Streets" on the radio. Feel that sweet, sweet sun. Spring thinks, Now I'll make 'em really want me. Tonight they're going to toss and turn all night in their own sweat.
And they would, except Spring drops a night of 20-degree weather into the mix and it's too cold to sweat, much less toss and turn. The boys pull out the wool blankets and shiver, thinking, I can't stop thinking about her. She was so gorgeous. Where's the space heater? But the thing is, this only makes them want her more. Come back, darlin', they think in their dreams. I'll be more faithful. I won't take down the storm windows until you tell me to. Please, please, just let me dig in the earth and walk to the grocery store instead of drive it.
This sort of bargaining behavior continues for a few weeks, except that the warmer days are longer and more frequent. Though you can't track the gradual decline of the snowbanks, one day you look out the window and can see pine needles on the ground. More specifically, you see the pine needles that you didn't sweep up last October like you should've. One day all the snow is gone. (That day has not actually arrived yet.) Daylight savings time ends, you lose an hour of sleep, and you can be out in the light as late as -- gasp! -- 8:00 pm. Spring looks best in this half-light, like the gauzy, filmy light of a glamour shot. She's so pretty in this half-light that you just see the pert, upturned smile. You don't see the slight smirk on her face. Oh, she has reeled you in but good.
Then you get up one morning and there's frost on the car windshield. A little snow has fallen -- not a lot, but enough to make you feel so betrayed. You want your Spring back, that fickle babe who's pulling your strings. It's like evening of really good sex: March is all foreplay, and here it April. It is payoff tim. In fact, it is way past payoff time, and the payoff had better be damn good.
Spring knows how you feel; after all, she's making you feel how you feel. She'll tease you a little more, she'll put on a little red lipstick, she'll wet her bright mouth, and the temperature will hit 60. There aren't any leaves on the trees yet -- for all anybody knows, it could still be November -- but the air is warm, the crocuses have decided to pop up and get a gander at her, and at some undefinable moment there's a tipping point. You wake up one morning and you just know that you won't need the thermal fleece pullover any more. You don't know how you know, but you do. You put the snowshoes away till next December. You start cleaning the gutters. You sweep winter's debris from the porch.
For all that courtship, that undefinable moment is your payoff. After all that foreplay, Spring never really delivers. "I'm a good girl," she says, "and I don't do that sort of thing. I never go all the way." And she doesn't; she may know how an easy girl does it, but she want to remain in total control so she can drive you mad again next year when she'll wear her little black dress that fits her to a tee in all the right places. And face it -- after a winter in Maine, you will fall for her. Again and again. You always do. You always will.
But all that happens after that undefinable moment: well, it's absolutely worth it.