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The show has begun

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This is the week when you decide to spend the first half of the game outside and maybe just catch the second half. One year we snaked a 150-foot heavy duty extension cord out to the garden so we could watch the red and blue teams and plant the green teams.

This is the week you notice the honeysuckle vines have initiated their ground-and-air assault on the blueberry bushes. You find yourself on your hands and knees in your street clothes fighting the good fight.

This is the week when that leafy path turns into a muddy luge. From frozen tundra to Carolina slip-and-slide. It's fun, it feels great! But, oh my God, take your shoes off outside.

This is the week when crystal frost dots the landscape at dawn and your daughter asks if she can wear flip-flops. Clothes counseling is irrelevant in the wake of spring. They're going to wear a T-shirt. If we can just keep up with the hoodies and jackets.

Quaint country dirt roads twisting through shading, swaying pines revert to their colonial clay ancestry and become tractor traps. This is the week you ask yourself, "How many 'check engine' lights equals 'time for a new truck?'"

Last month in a movie-trailer-like vision, the spring peepers started their manic chanting as valiant daffodils poked their yellow and white heads out of snow clusters. A feisty apricot tree exploded with tiny white blossoms. The deer and returning birds noticed it first, of course. The beekeeper had to make return trips to his hives with sugar water as the temperature swan-dived. The red maple blooms were there at the end of February, waiting for the bees. But the poor bees were hive-bound, unable to fly in temps under 50 degrees.

If you were north of the Eno, you witnessed the assault of the weatheristas' "wintry mix." While the kids pulled pillows over their heads praying for a two-hour delay, you just hoped the power stayed on long enough for a strong first cup of coffee.

The chickens? They just went nuts. Laying nests filled with fresh straw and lots of extra daylight slanting into the coop, the girls did their phenomenal thing. Hey, very fresh deviled eggs at half time. Renewing our weekly barter after the winter break, our neighbor showed up at the door with bread and biscotti in trade for an armful of eggs.

This is the season of 30-degree mornings and 70-degree afternoons. Right on time, the show has begun.

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