By Lisa Sugarman
See, those of us who live here in the northeast wondered, for most of this winter, if we’d ever get the chance to do something as simple as crack open our windows ever again. With snow drifts encasing most of our houses since early January, I think the majority of us forgot we even had windows to open. So these last few weeks, when the snow finally melted enough to reveal the world that’s been frozen underneath, the first thing I wanted to do was throw open every window and purge our house of the hermetically sealed air that’s been recirculating between rooms for the last three months.
I mean it was pretty rough, at times. Even in spite of all the cozy nights in front of the fire, you still had this unshakeable feeling that you were living in a Habitrail, shuffling back and forth between the same little compartments day after day like little gerbils. So by the end of March, as much as I love winter and all that winter implies, even I understood the true meaning of cabin fever.
There were actually times when I was convinced I could see the sour air physically floating between the bedrooms—air that no amount of Febreze could purify. Of course I realize now that I was just hallucinating because I’d been confined to the same eight rooms all winter. I guess the stale air had me in some weird delusional state. (I’m clearer now.)
All I can say is that when I finally broke the seal on that first window, I could swear I heard a pop like the kind you hear when you break the seal on an oversized jar of pickles. It’s like all the air in the house was electrified by the sudden and unexpected burst of all the incoming fresh air. And the old, dank air just made an instant break for the open window, to the point where I was momentarily concerned that I’d be sucked out of my dining room window by a massive air undertow.
It was amazing, actually. That influx of spring air made you feel like you were breathing for the first time. Sort of like that sensation you get when you’re snorkeling and you’ve gone down too deep and you struggle to make it back to the surface before your air runs out. It’s just like that first big breath you take when your head finally breaches the surface. (Maybe a little less dramatic than that, but you get my point.)
And the excitement I’m feeling about spring finally reaching the northeast isn’t just limited to the freshness of the air. There’s so much more to be excited about. Like, oh, I don’t know, being reminded that we do, in fact, have a backyard and deck furniture and hydrangeas and a shed. Because to be honest, I had completely forgotten about the Adirondacks on our front porch because they’d been covered over for so long. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
It’s the little things like that that almost brought tears to my eyes when I saw them again. Kind of like when the roads finally cleared and I saw all my runner friends who’ve been struggling to log miles all winter out running on real pavement instead of on treadmills. Not to mention my actual toes when I finally took them out of my Sorels.
But no sign of spring had a more powerful effect on me than when, a few days ago, I heard the sounds of real live starlings chirping in the trees outside our bedroom window. Now I’m no Bird Whisperer, but I felt like if I could translate bird, I was pretty sure that they were all freaking out, wondering what the hell happened while they were all away. Regardless, they were there, chirping and fluttering in the trees, a definitive sign that we were finally closing the door on The Winter of 2015.
Now personally, I wouldn’t put it past Mother Nature to go to the opposite extreme just for the hell of it and give us a heat wave this summer, but I’m hoping she shows a little compassion, and gives us at least a mildly enjoyable summer to offset her sick sense of humor all winter.
Either way, I think we’re finally far enough in the clear that we can bid The Winter of 2015 adieu as we all say, Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItIsWhatItIsColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is, available on Amazon.com and at select Whole Foods stores.