Are we there yet?

“The waiting is the hardest part.”

— Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

I was visiting the deli counter up in heaven yesterday and they had one of those “take a number” thingies where you take one of those little slips of paper with numbers on them.

When the deli man (in this case, it was God wearing a white apron and one of those little paper deli hats cocked to one side) called the number on your little slip, it was your turn to order up whatever it is that you wanted. It was extremely crowded, so I knew I’d be there for a while.

As it turns out, the number that I pulled was 41. I looked up at the board to see what position I was in compared to the throng of people surrounding me, but a hanging provolone cheese obscured my view. So I asked the guy next to me what his number was … turns out it was Bob Seidenstein … curiously, his number was 41 as well. Bob began explaining the history of winter and the virtue of patience, but I had to move on, thinking I had found a flaw in the system. I asked Ebony from the Adirondack Foot Clinic, who stood close by. Her number was 41. And Rick from the Piercefield transfer station standing next to her … his number was 41!

I soon realized everyone’s number was 41. At this point, God behind the counter seemed to be growing a little impatient. In a booming, almost thunderous voice, God asked, “Well, Cardone! What’ll it be today?” Everyone’s head turned to me, waiting for my reply. As I mumbled something and tried to remember the deli items on my shopping list, what came out of my gob-smacked mouth was “spring … can I get a half pound of spring?”

As my lips formed the words, a smile broke out on God-The-Deli-Man’s face. After I had spoken, first there was a giggle, then a snicker, then a guffaw, then outright hysterical laughing from the crowd. Mortified, I looked back at my little slip of paper and saw some other writing on it that I hadn’t seen previously. The teeny-tiny writing underneath the number 41 read “days until spring.”

Forty-one days until spring?

I slowly broke into tears, grabbed my face and screamed, “No!” That’s when I woke up in my bed, swaddled by two comforters and two — now terrified — cats.

Yes, counting today, there are 41 more days of cold, snow, ice, gloves, crampons, plows, shovels, magnesium chloride, fleece-lined jeans, hand warmers and wood stoves. Forty-one days of white. Forty-one days of gray. Forty-one days of thinking about 41 days. Then 40 days of thinking about 40 days. And so on until we reach spring!

I heard Bob still going on …“What about the fabulous cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, boarding, snowmobiling?”

Merely pastimes to take our minds off the wait, that’s what I say. And they require special shoes.

Many in the Adirondack Park are waiting for spring to arrive. What are we waiting for? For warmth, for green. We’re waiting for sun. We’re waiting for open water and paddling, swimming, fishing, picnicking and anything that doesn’t require layers!

That’s when I heard Bob continue on with this: “And how about Winter Carnival?”

He had a point. Without winter there’d be no Winter Carnival! During Carnival, the weather is always perfect, no matter the weather. It requires no special shoes and everyone loves it. But it’s just something else we all have to wait for!

I wasn’t about to give up that easily. “I’ll see your Winter Carnival and raise you a Fourth of July.” A hush fell over the crowd and God seemed increasingly frustrated with me. “And another thing,” I said, looking the Supreme Deli Man in the eye, “we only had to wait eight days for the whole entire world to be created! Now we have to wait 41 days for a little warmth?”

Through clenched teeth God spoke: “I decree … Next year shall be one day shorter and you will LEAP with joy.” I wondered if he had punned on purpose. Then, in a lighter tone, “And besides, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow this year. That means an early spring!”

“Great,” I thought. “God leaves the seasons up to a fat rodent from Pennsylvania.”

This year, spring officially arrives on Tuesday, March 19. I, for one, can’t wait.


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