A spring day, like Sunday, can make everything seem so fresh.
It makes sense, of course. We’ve had a long winter. It’s been a deep freeze and even the crocuses have been reluctant to push their green shoots through the frozen earth. But the days are lengthening, the robins have returned and I’m waiting to hear the chorus of peepers from vernal pools in the woods along Buckeye Brook.
Sunday was more than a tease of what’s to come. We’ve had those in prior years, a couple of warm days followed by a drop in the temperature and even snow. One year we got as much as five inches in early May. It was a heavy coating that didn’t last long yet wreaked havoc, bringing down leafed branches that couldn’t sustain the weight.
Sunday was a day to be outside.
Kids and adults were on their bikes. People raked their yards. Those who own boats headed from marinas to start the annual ritual of polishing, scraping and painting. People walked their dogs. And many, as I discovered, drove to Conimicut Point to sit in their cars with the windows down and look out on the bay.
I expected to find a few adventuresome souls wearing bathing suits while lounging in beach chairs. But no, it wasn’t that warm.
Instead I found a woman with a metal detector slowly advancing over the sand. She would stop periodically and, with a scoop, sift through the sand.
She looked up as I advanced and smiled.
“A dime,” she answered.
“An old one?” I asked.
“Haven’t looked,” she responded, pulling a darkened disc from her pocket. It didn’t look like a dime to me, but then after being buried on the beach why would it be shiny.
“I love it out here,” she said, making clear whatever she finds is secondary to walking the beach and the feel of the outdoors. She’s found several gold and silver rings, a bullet, lots of quarters and other loose change and even what she believes is an arrowhead. She makes a point of picking up nails and other sharp objects that could prove harmful for those walking the beach in bare feet. She had the beach to herself.
That wasn’t the case at the playground. The swings were in demand and kids climbed over the jungle gym. Parents and grandparents sat on the park railing taking in the view. One mother, blonde hair flying, was swinging as her son pushed. As the swing reached its apex, she jumped out with a laugh landing on her feet in the sand. She hadn’t expected an audience.
“Haven’t done that since I was a kid,” she said. “This is beautiful here. It’s all so close.”
She came to this country from Russia. From Moscow, where she lived, it was an overnight train ride to get to a beach where you could find shells.
There was more to her story. She said she had told her son and daughter that they would be going to a park, but she didn’t say anything about where it was or that it was near the beach. As they reached Conimicut, the kids thought they were headed for the gym. It turns out that Dina Dumezil and her husband, Odias, recently acquired the gym on West Shore Road from Jim Casey. It is now the Phoenix Boxing and Fitness Gym, although the name isn’t up yet.
She felt so fortunate to have met Casey. It was as if they had been destined to meet. There was more to her amazement. Her husband is from Haiti and he left the country only a couple of days before the earthquake that so devastated the country. Again, it was if they were being watched over.
I wondered what she thought of developments in Crimea.
“I don’t follow politics,” she said. “I want peace.”
I didn’t probe any deeper. Her children jumped from their swings and chased after bubbles a young girl sent flying in the building breeze.
“We like it here. People are friendly,” Dina said.
Is there a connection to spring?
Both the beachcomber, the young mother from Russia starting a new business and a new life in this country were so anxious to talk about what they had found.
Sharing the renewal of life is an allure of spring. It’s time; listen for the words…and the peepers.