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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Signs of Spring

It's amazing what you see when you actually travel the speed limit.

I was heading back to the office yesterday - a glorious afternoon with temps hovering near the 60s - after doing a pastoral call and some errands.

It was so glorious I was thinking of pulling over and taking the top down on Lucy True Bug when I spotted him just up the road.

Pudgy boy. Maybe eight, nine years old. Just home from school. Jeans and a short sleeve T-shirt with a puffy vest over it. Yankees baseball cap - on the right way. Talking to his mom who was giving him some stern instructions about something. Holding the leash to a beautiful yellow lab pup who was sooOOOooo excited about the walk they were about to take.

As he turned from the driveway, his mom watching closely, I couldn't tell who was more excited, the young lad or the lab pup.

There was an unmistakable bounce to his step which the pup matched, step for step. They looked for all the world like a very picture of the first day of Spring - fresh, excited, full of the energy of new life.

You could almost see the blood rushing through his veins like the sap beginning to flow in the linden and maple trees that lined the streets of his neighborhood. You could see excitement and joy push through his every pore like the purple crocus will begin to push through his muddy front yard in a few weeks.

As I drove closer to him, I could see the broad smile on his face. This was one happy dude - happy to be home from school, happy to be a young boy out for an afternoon walk on a beautiful day. Happy it wasn't snowing!

I was remembering my own childhood, on a similar day, now in the dim past but brought close and very present in the bright sunshine. It made me smile even broader.

About the time I was lost in my own memories, he noticed me. I must have been smiling as foolishly as he was.

Then, it happened. He tilted his chin up, put his free hand to his baseball cap and tiped it as he nodded his chin upward, almost defiantly, and gave me a bright smile.

It was just a small gesture but it was hugely New Jersey. You'd have to have seen it before to recognize it. Think Fonzie on Happy Days for a close facsimile. I could almost hear my young friend saying, "Eh, ow you doin'?"

Just like his old man.

Nature or nurture?

I think it's a little bit of both.

Either way, it was a great day in this North Jersey neighborhood. We may be in for a few more flakes of snow and March and April may yet provide is with more blustery, windy cold days than any of us wants, needs or requires, but I am starting to believe that Spring may actually come this year.

I saw it in that little boy's face.

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