She’s Not From Around Here: The Best Part of Spring

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I love seeing the return of plants, and hatching chicks as much as the next person, but my favorite sign of spring is much more mundane. Amy Allender Photo

At this point in the year, it would be easy to bemoan the seemingly endless chilly days. I could fill this week’s column with witty comments about how I’m getting tired of hearing about flurries in the forecast. Or maybe I could come up with a cheeky way to reminisce about the Easter blizzard we were facing at this time last year.

I could write about those things, but I won’t.

Today, instead of encouraging you to draw your gaze skyward to marvel at the warmth of the faithful spring sun—I’d like us all to collectively cast our eyes to the ground. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the humble beauty of something often overlooked in the excitement of a new season emerging. While most will never think twice about it, this under-appreciated aspect of spring just may be the thing I most look forward to seeing after the deep-freeze of a long winter.

Am I referring to fresh blades of grass poking through frosty soil? Or perhaps to the first leaves growing from wooded stems? Maybe to movement underfoot as brave insects decisively begin to forage above ground?
All good guesses and worthy of admiration, but no.

As a not-from-around-

here person, the thing I most look forward to seeing consistently upon the return of spring is parking lot lines.
The snow this week reminded me just how much I miss seeing those sweet yellow, white, and blue lines. A few balmy, above-freezing days spoiled me. I parked so confidently, so accurately. Then this week’s snow threw it all into chaos again.
The exact amount of anarchy which ensues the moment layers of snow and ice begin to permanently cover our lots cannot be fully explained, or exaggerated. To the born and raised Hot Dishers, this is normal winter protocol. For a large portion of the year most parking is a rough estimate at best, and flippant carelessness at worst. For me, the absence of parking lines and the order they command is jarring each and every year.

The reappearance of these faint lines is one of my favorite aspects of spring.
Amy Allender photo

Everything is in order. You pull into the parking lot and all the cars are lined up in neat little rows. There is plenty of space to maneuver. Even if you’ve never been to a certain establishment, there is something calming about knowing where and how to leave your car.

Then one day, BAM! Snow and ice cover the asphalt. Suddenly the quaint orderly town you thought you knew turns into a lawless wasteland. Are the lines slanted or straight? No one knows—some park at an angle, others don’t. It doesn’t matter—there are no lines. Where exactly does that second line of cars begin? Again, no one knows. Anything goes. Every car is at the mercy of the first driver’s best guess. Too close to the first row, or too far apart and the whole lot is off.

And don’t even get me started about the pressure I feel when I am that first driver. Forget about the stress of sitting for the SAT, or wedding day jitters. There is no weight greater than that of being the car that sets the tone for a blind parking lot. For the record, no one should trust me to be the tone-setting first car in the lot. I do my best, then just try to avoid eye-contact with others, because I know my parking only adds to the chaos I so loathe.

Sure, lots of places experience snowy parking lots. This isn’t something only NoDak drivers face. But there’s a key difference. Those other places get mid-winter melts. Temperatures rise above freezing long enough to let the lines peek through. Drivers receive regular “refreshers” on where to park and how. Around here, the lines disappear—and depending on which lot you’re in, and how the season shakes out—you may only glimpse them once or twice all winter.

So yes, I’ll be happy to welcome back warmer temperatures, grass, budding tress, birds, and bugs. But while we wait for the slush to dry up, and flowers to emerge, let’s be grateful that days of parking lot pandemonium are (fingers crossed) behind us until next year.

For more stories of life in Hot Dish Land, and tips for cultivating a positive mindset, join me on Instagram @amy_allender, and Facebook @amyallenderblog.

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