a broadcaster, pilot, writer, and our Guest Columnist!
Back to Blog
Ah, March. The month comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. This year March came in like a lamb, so theoretically, the month should go out like a lion – weatherwise, but we'll have to wait and see.
There's a lot to celebrate in March; Saint Urho's Day, Saint Patrick's Day, Fat Tuesday, and Ash Wednesday, followed by Lent and spring.
Fat Tuesday came early this year, catching me off guard, and we didn't do anything festive. But it did cause me to yearn for New Orleans and some good Cajun-style food. It took me two weeks, but on March fifteenth, I finally made some Louisiana Red Beans and Rice with Andouille sausage, a spicy little dish with a nice glow. (Beware the Ides of March.) We enjoyed this meal with our last bottle of Yuengling beer, which we bootlegged into Minnesota from Texas.
The month moved along, and we came to the first day of spring. Usually, I consider spring in northern Minnesota to be the second coming of snow. But this vernal equinox brought us a gorgeous sunny day with temperatures in the mid-forties.
Melissa and I put on shorts and went out to the deck to bask in the sun; I even took off my shirt to catch some rays – good ole, natural vitamin D. Our black cat Edgar Allan and dog June Bug came out to join us, contrasting my pastie white torso and legs.
Our patio furniture remained snowed in stored underneath the deck. So, we laid blankets and beach towels out on the wood top and enjoyed the day laying out in the sun – just as a southerner may head for the beach on an exceptionally nice first day of spring. Sunbathing in forty-five-degree weather may sound crazy to some of you, but you'd have to understand the warmth and intensity of the Minnesota sun.
Around one-o-clock, a few clouds rolled in, bringing a breeze with them. But, just that quick, forty-five degrees was way too cold to be outside wearing just a pair of shorts. So, with goosebumps covering my arms and legs, we gathered our blankets and retreated indoors.
Melissa walked into the living room with a broom and a vacuum. It appeared she would start cleaning, so I tried to slither back into the kitchen quietly. If I could escape out the back door, I could resume goofing off elsewhere on this first day of spring. But unfortunately, it was too late – she'd already spotted me. "You could take these area rugs out on the deck to let them air out?"
I tried to reason with her, "Honey, it's way too nice out to be working inside. Let's go do something fun."
"Do you know what day this is?" Was she testing me?
"Of course, it's the first day of spring." As soon as I said it, I knew I should have answered, "March twentieth?" But, instead, I'd just set her up like one volleyball player sets up another to spike the ball and score!
She smiled as she seized the opportunity I offered. "That's right, honey, it's the first day of spring, and we're doing some spring cleaning." She handed me the rolled-up rugs, and I headed for the deck.
I tried to sneak down the hallway toward the bedroom back in the house. But it was too late; she'd already seen me. Over the noisy vacuum, she suggested, "Why don't you bring up the mop and bucket from the basement? We'll clean the floors today." I started to tell her I'd rather not but quickly recognized – that wasn't really just a suggestion.
Melissa kept cleaning while I was mopping the floors. Finally, the house was starting to look good. I glanced out the window at the sun reflecting off the snow in the yard. Although this day felt like spring, there was snow forecasted for the next two days. I swished my mop in the hot, soapy water bucket, then squeezed out the mop head and began swabbing the floors again. I laughed, "Spring in Minnesota – the second coming of snow."
Looking out the windows at the yard gave me an idea. I decided to open a few windows to let the fresh air make its way through, airing out the house as part of our spring cleaning. "This glass could use a good cleaning, too," I said as I raised the sash. Our windows tip inward, making the panes easy to clean. I thought about my dad cleaning the windows when I was younger.
First, he would remove the storm windows. Then climb his stepladder with a small pail of soapy water and a rag. After washing the window, he would clear the water with a squeegee. Then, he'd pull a clean, soft cotton rag, usually an old cloth diaper, from his back pocket and polish the glass. Finally, Dad would carefully inspect the glass for any missed smudges or, worse yet, streaks.
If he found a spot or streak, Dad would huff his hot breath on the spot, then move his rag in small circular motions, cleaning the defective area. Next, he'd come off the ladder to inspect the glass from the ground. If the glass was sparkling clean, he would go back up the ladder to hand the screen over the window for the upcoming warmer days.
Dad was a stickler for clean glass. The windows on his car were always spotless – inside and out. On occasion, one of the kids would touch a window in his car. "Doggone it. Look at that. You left fingerprints on the glass." He'd complain, "You don't need to touch the glass to look out the window." Then Dad would go to the truck, get his little bottle of glass cleaner, and clean the affected area.
Dad was the same way with his eyeglasses. He was constantly cleaning them, and mine too.
I started wearing glasses when I was about two years old. My dad would take my glasses from my face and hold them up to the light. "How can you see through these?" He would huff a couple of times if we were outside, covering my glasses with steam from his breath, then polish them with his handkerchief. He would use his soft cotton shirttail if he didn't have a hanky. I liked it when Dad cleaned my glasses.
He would go to a sink inside the house and let the water run until it was hot. Dad rubbed the bar soap between his hands, then cleaned my glasses with the suds between his fingers. Next, he'd wash the lenses and the frames, even the bows. After rinsing my glasses, he'd set them on the edge of the sink. Then Dad dried his hands and used the hand towel to dry my glasses. When they were dry, he'd polish the lenses with his hanky. Dad always expressed the importance of having clean glasses.
When he put the glasses back on my face, they were warm. He'd work the fitted bows around the back of my ears with his warm fingers. His touch was gentle and felt good. After Dad cleaned my glasses, the world always looked like a whole new, brighter place. Then, he would pull his black plastic comb from his pocket to groom my hair. Those were beautiful memories.
I made those same memories with my daughter Delaney, who also wore glasses as a little kid. I would take them from her face and hold them up to the light. "How can you see through these things?" Now I do the same thing with my granddaughters. I wonder if someday they will have the same fond memories.
The spring weather was still around when we finished cleaning the house. I put a chocolate cake in the oven and fired up the Weber grill. Melissa asked if I'd like a beer with dinner. After the incident a few nights earlier, I decided just to have water.
Several nights earlier, Melissa asked if I'd like to share the last Yuengling beer. (Bootlegged in from Texas) "Sure," I said. She poured half the bottle of Yuengling into a small glass for me. I drank the brew before eating our Louisiana Red Beans and Rice dinner. Then I rinsed the glass and set it on the kitchen counter, or, at least, I thought I did.
Later, after dinner, Melissa and I split a Snickers bar while watching a movie. I wanted just a couple of swallows of milk, so I went to the kitchen. There was no need to turn on the lights; the light from the fridge would suffice. I also didn't see the need to dirty another glass – I'd just use the same glass I used for my beer.
I poured a little milk into the glass and drank it. "YUCK! This milk is spoiled." I declared. Then I remembered, I intended to but never drank the rest of my beer. Instead, I poured the milk into a glass that still had some warm beer. Yuck!
I'm trying to decide if I should close this story with a reminder from Dad of the importance of always having clean glasses - even drinking glasses, or write it off as Beware the Ides of March.