My body's dancing uncontrollably to a seasonal beat. For over a week now, since around the time the clocks changed, I've been stalked by a vernal force. It arrives early in places it knows I'll be. It shadows my movements late into the evening. It illuminates dust motes floating through the stale winter air in my office, making it harder to ignore the sedimentary layers that hold everything in their place. It's melting the snow and threatening to reveal what lies beneath.
Spring forward. It's back.
Right about now, assuming you're reading this on Pique Thursday, our solar system is striking six, night and day achieve ceteris paribus. The velvety darkness of this — or is it now last — winter is slowly passing into the obscure history it so richly deserves. The long night's gone, replaced by warming teasers of summer to come.
Unless you drive a grooming machine or work in a bakery, you're probably not heading to work in the dark and coming home in the dark any more. There was so much light left the other day when I got home, I didn't know what to do with myself.
And that's one problem with spring. Too much light too soon and not enough established routine to deal with it.
Now, that's not the only problem with spring; it's just my main problem because, well, I'm a guy. Any day now, you will, in fact, start hearing a lot about what many in Tiny Town consider the biggest problem with spring: dog poop.
Oh yes, mark my words. Editorials, "letters to the editor," columnists even — that would be other columnists — will be commenting on the biggest social, political, esthetic and public health problem to plague our happy valley home since sewers made people stop carping about the problem of human poop... westside road notwithstanding. The distribution and disposition of dog poop will, I'm not kidding, become acceptable cocktail party conversation. This being an election year, I wouldn't even be surprised if dog crap becomes a hot political issue, now that the current council seems to have every other problem under control. Did that sound sincere?
Yet, for some inexplicable reason, all the complaining each year doesn't do anything to solve the problem, to the extent it really is a problem as opposed to, say, a mild nuisance. Part of the reason is people fail to see the entertainment value in dog poop. If you, just for example, think of it as a slalom course on the Valley Trail, a precursor to the invasion of the slugs later this summer, it takes on a whole new aesthetic.
Or ponder, if you will, the retribution value. I mean, if you're really peeved about dogs relieving themselves in what you consider your personal space, do as others have done before you. Collect and redistribute. I know who owns the dogs who run loose in my neighborhood — everybody. So target your nearest free-range dog neighbour and spread the wealth. Don't worry about the niceties of precise scatological identification. This is vigilante justice at its finest after all, not science.
But I digress. You should consider the above a pre-emptive strike and the last words you'll hear from me on the subject.
The bigger problem with spring is, as I said, too much light and not enough routine. This combination can be deadly for anybody, but it is particularly deadly for men. It is a combination that can lead to any number of self-destructive activities.
For young, uncommitted — is that redundant? — men, it often manifests itself as an irresistible urge to dump the woman they've been dating/living with and strike out in search of newer, greener, read more naive, partners. Ladies, if this happens to you don't take it personally. It's not your fault. There's nothing you could have done to prevent it and, frankly, you'll probably realize you're better off after the sting goes away.
This is, after all, a self-destructive urge, possibly a defective rogue gene on a twisted bit of DNA, that has its roots in the primordial ooze and slop from which men emerged and to which they return as often as possible, only to come home with dirty clothes, no money, unbelievably lame excuses and a whining request to please, please be taken back and given one more chance. Do not fall for it.
If, however, you're a man and have been fortunate enough to find a partner, settle down and be responsible, which is to say grow up, you're still not out of the woods. Spring has new and equally revolting tricks to play on you. It is a proven, scientific fact that spring is the leading cause of a widespread, adult, male disease for which there is no cure — the urge to renovate, from the Latin, reno, meaning renew, and vate, meaning f&@*ing things up that were perfectly good to begin with.
The urge to renovate can manifest itself in many, varied ways. For example, you could, out of the blue, decide the car you've been driving quite satisfactorily for the last five months, the one that used to have a back seat but now has the residue from 87 Egg McMuffins, a couple of hundred Starbuck's cups, bits of ski wax, a glove, a broken pole, mouldering base layers and other treasures odiferous but unseen, needs cleaning. If spring didn't come, you would never think about cleaning your car.
Or, and this can be particularly dangerous, you just might fall for the quintessentially Canadian male reno-urge. It might strike while you're sitting in the back yard, walking along or even driving. Suddenly you find yourself looking at trees not as magnificent living obelisks, but as things that need to be cut down. Driven to wear plaid, find your chainsaw — of course you have one — and make chips fly, you will slaughter an innocent tree unless you fight it like the devil himself.
Worst of all, you may find yourself drawn mysteriously to places like Home Depot or Ikea. You just may succumb to the full-blown home reno bug. Architects and carpenters, if you're smart enough to hire them, may become your new best friends. You may find yourself contemplating additions and alterations, wondering whether a wall is load-bearing or not, whatever that means.
Before things go that far, do yourself a favour. Take a vacation. Go biking, fishing. Seek professional help. Let the urge pass; it will, trust me, it will. Spring will pass and so will your desire to renovate. In a few months, you'll look back on it and wonder why you ever thought of such a harebrained scheme.
Just blame it on spring.