Leap year wasn't supposed to be about whole seasons being bounded over like a teenager hurdling dirty laundry. Yet here we are on the first day of spring, cleaning golf clubs and digging out picnic baskets.
On the face of it, an accelerated summer sounds like a good deal. Yet leave it to us to curb your enthusiasm.
• In a normal spring, we'd still be enjoying weekends of kicking back without guilt, knowing that it's too mucky to run, too early to clean out the gardens, too soon to put up the screens. (Local devotees of the NCAA basketball playoffs have worked this meteorological angle for years.) But when it's sunny and 70 in March, indoor inactivity feels almost sinful.
• Most years, we have several weeks in which to gradually shift our closets from winter woolens to summer sheers. This year, we're pawing through sweaters to reach the box of shorts in the back. Yet we also suspect that it may not be safe to store the Shetlands, thus leaving sartorial carnage in our wake.
• Climate change skeptics aren't nearly as jocular as they were last year.
• The National Motorists Association, a Wisconsin group founded in 1982 to repeal the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit, rather crankily contends that "spring is traffic ticket season" with officers more likely to leave their cars than in winter -- a contention that overlooks the fact that glorious top-down, windows-open, radio-cranked speeding is involved, leading to patrols out in full force.
• On the upside, the sudden and persistent warm-up has dented the dreaded freeze-thaw cycle, leaving fewer potholes to dodge.
• Back to the downside: Months of anticipation about wearing that cute spring coat have been thwarted.
• Gym rats smirk at the panicked expressions on post-holiday exercisers who swore they had another month before being expected to jog around the lake in shorts and tank tops -- not that anyone can actually see anyone else, given the human gridlock on the paths.
• Finally, pity the poor souls who've always been able to skulk out and remove their wreaths, twinkle lights and faded greenery, justified by having to wear a jacket to complete the task. This year, they look like procrastinators, plain and simple.
Remember, though: This is Minnesota. Just because it's officially spring doesn't mean that winter is over. As poet T.S. Eliot once famously observed, "April is the cruellest month."