This season is catching. I’m nodding, I’m smiling. It feels like this pale sunshine is warming every one of my frozen cells.
Ospring! You bring Wellington to a sparkle. Only this morning I wiped pollen from the car, and later saw a woman in a spotty blouse walking a spotted dog.
Then – and what a gift this was! – I drove past an open truck. A removal guy was sitting in the back among the furniture, strumming someone’s guitar.
I can’t help it: I’m jaunty. This city, this season, is catching. I’m a daffodil without the yellow ruff. I’m nodding, I’m smiling. I’m possibly perimenopausal, but it feels like this pale sunshine is warming every one of my frozen cells.
I’m not the only one. This morning I drove to a suburban supermarket for the dull weekly shop. It was in a hubbub. After weeks of hammering, its renovations were complete and there was something of a strip-lit, mid-morning party going on.
“Can I offer you a map?” asked a friendly woman in a branded apron as I arrived. What a help it was! ENTRANCE, said the map, of the spot where I was standing. An apple icon denoted Produce, a fish signified Seafood and, rather alarmingly, a turtle seemed to indicate the Deli. I’d now find sugar and nuts in the Personal Care aisle, and toilet paper adjacent to Dairy. It made no sense, but why not mix things up? A little change never hurt anyone. Somebody, I decided, was as lit about spring as I was.
“We have a thousand new lines now,” another staffer told me. There were little stands everywhere, offering shoppers coffee, paper cups of soup, and crackers with pate. It was a relief to stop, sip something and admire how a familiar room could look so different, rearranged.
Still, it must have overwhelmed me because I left a whole bag of shopping behind. I realised when I got home, rummaging for the one with the wine in it. My five o’clock would amount to nothing that evening, merely another tick of the clock, without a glass of wine to look forward to. I rang the store after digging the receipt out of the pedal bin. “I left behind some chardonnay,” I said, panic rising in my voice. I wondered if she thought I might have a drinking problem. She told me to bring the receipt in. So, later, I did.
“I don’t remember the brand,” I admitted to the store manager, as she examined it for my purchases and then indicated they did have it; they’d held it behind the counter. She gave me the bag. How funny! I’d forgotten the caster sugar and shaving gel as well.
“Oh! It was only the wine that I noticed was missing,” I admitted.
“Priorities!” she replied, twinkling.
Was it just me, or was everyone ecstatic? The profundity of everything just kept revealing itself. I paused to give way to a digger driver and he gave me such a look – of acknowledgement and appreciation – that I felt a twist of energy, like his humanity was touching mine.
Later, collecting my daughter from school, I watched her clambering on the monkey bars. She’d soon be 6. She’d become all legs and arms, like all the other 6-year-olds, busy swinging away from their early childhoods towards adventure. Does spring force you to notice these things? Is that what spring is actually for?
I’m telling you, I’m not the only one. “New beginnings,” murmured our estate agent, as she marked our auction for the first of the month.
When you think about it, a realtor is part hustler, part therapist. Think of all the splitting couples selling houses, bitter about their broken dreams, wanting the best possible price so they can box up their crap and get on with their lives? Or newlyweds buying a house, imagining a baby? Or an elderly couple, saying goodbye to their Axminster carpets, whose next step is the retirement village? An agent witnesses all this.
“Pull this, George,” says my mum, closing his small fist around green bristle in her garden. He pulls. “See? It’s a carrot,” she says, and he considers this for a moment. “Smell this, George,” I say, and lean a clutch of white flowers towards his nose. Terns wheel in the sky over the estuary, and seven cygnets glide across the pond.
I’m not sure I can handle too much more of this, so I go to Ezibuy to calm down. “Can I help you?” asks a staff member, in the sing-song Geordie accent of my childhood. I ask her to price an item, simply to keep her talking, and think about my grandmother. I remember her vanished kitchen, dim and friendly, and its jam tarts and pickling jars. “Our Leah,” she used to say, ladling sugar into my mug of tea. “Eee, our Leah.”
The clock ticks another minute, and I hear it.
Why not mix things up? A little change never hurt anyone. Somebody, I decided, was as lit about spring as I was.