It's usually somewhere around now when we begin to realize that spring is near, not on the calendar but in the real world.
The first clue is seeing green and not white in the yard.
We can actually feel our noses for the first time in months.
The mornings start with birds singing and not scrapers scraping.
Some are even so bold as to replace the snow blower with the lawn mower.
The snow brush, however, remains in the vehicle until at least June.
There's no reason to tempt fate, after all.
But with this being the year of the Winter That Wasn't, those traditional clues are long gone.
Heck, it was nearly 80 degrees in February, for goodness sake!
I was cutting the grass by the middle of March, prompted, of course, by the traditional annual stern look from my wife.
So how are we to tell that it really is spring?
I submit two clues to consider:
First, it's the Easter weekend, which is always a time of rebirth and renewal usually timed with nature's reawakening.
Even C-and-E'ers are going to church this weekend (You know, those people who only attend on Christmas and Easter?)
For the non-church crowd consider this: if you spend a week straight eating leftover ham and egg salad that's discolored in places where the dye seeps through the shell, it's spring!
The second clue is the start of the baseball season. There's nothing like the Boys of Summer running to the crack of the bat to get you thinking that those long lazy summer days are coming.
Even if you are currently bundled up like it's an NFL playoff game in January.
I've accomplished a lot in my career, won a few awards here, a few accolades there.
But few things have topped running out on the field as a 10-year old starting left fielder in a brand new uniform, having just arrived atop the Volunteer Fire Department's ladder truck from the Opening Day Parade.
That's when you know you have really arrived.
Just like spring.