When I was a lad, I matriculated in a fine old brick elementary school. Built in 1911, it had the kind of charm modern facilities can’t match.
The features I appreciated most were the enormous windows that lined the outside wall of every classroom, starting about waist-high and stretching nearly to the high ceilings.
I spent a lot of my time staring out those windows, including, or perhaps especially, times when I was supposed to be doing something my teachers considered more productive.
Staring out windows is actually productive time for a writer, but my taskmasters at that school didn’t realize I was a writer. As a result, they considered me a bit of a slacker.
I gazed out those magnificent windows in all seasons, but never more intently than the first weeks of spring.
Being an older building, the interior climate was difficult to control when the weather fluctuated as it tends to do when the seasons change.
As a consequence, my teachers would often throw the windows open on those first balmy days to let the fresh air in.
Unlike modern windows that don’t open at all, or open just a limited amount to keep people from falling out, these old windows opened in a dramatic fashion. I never tried it, but I suspect it would have been possible to drive a car through openings of that size.
When these windows were open, all the wonders of spring came flooding in and swirled around us like fairy dust.
I could smell the first hints of green grass beginning to emerge from beneath the dirty grey glaciers that had once been white.
I could hear the rivulets of melting snow racing down the gutters in cheery cascades.
In the nearby trees, boisterous birds sang songs of celebration.
Out on the bay, the ice cracked and jostled as winter reluctantly relinquished its grip, and up on the hill beyond the railroad tracks, the woods beckoned.
I was an indifferent student at the best of times, but in the springtime, it hardly paid for me to go to school at all. My mind was elsewhere, and I dreamed of skylarking in the spring sunshine.
I didn’t mind winter as a lad, but the coming of spring opened up a whole new world of possibilities, and I yearned to explore all of them.
Decades have passed since I sat at a desk in that grand old school, but the way I feel about the arrival of spring hasn’t changed.
Some medical experts say spring fever doesn’t exist.
They explain the way we feel at the end of winter by using a lot of long words and complicated descriptions.
They say the longer days cause our bodies to produce less melatonin, so we sleep less and have more energy.
Becoming more active and absorbing more vitamin D also give us more energy, they tell us.
The increased levels of serotonin in our bodies in the spring also help to elevate our moods, the doctors say.
All these things may be true, but there is more to spring fever than chemistry.
Spring fever is about freedom and opportunity.
We can shed our jackets, hats, and gloves and feel the summer breeze caressing our bare skin for the first time in months. Perhaps just as importantly, members of the opposite sex are shedding their winter layers at the same time, and that’s enough to make anyone on this side of the sod rub his eyes and take notice.
The doctors can say what they want, but the best cure I can think of for shaking a guy out of hibernation is the sight of ladies emerging into the sunshine wearing their spring wardrobes.
Each day has 24 hours in the spring, just like at any other time of the year, but somehow the arrival of spring makes me want to make the most of every one of those hours.
The time for sleep is over. It doesn’t matter specifically what I do, but I want to be doing something. I want to be moving, breathing fresh air, and soaking up sunshine.
Spring fever may not officially exist, but I have some kind of fever, and I catch it every year about this time. The only cure is to get out and get moving, and the time to start is now.