Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring in Atlanta

Here in Atlanta, we have nine seasons, just like everyone else:
  • pre-summer, which starts just after spring and runs until about mid-April and is characterized by pollen, pollen, more pollen, temperatures in the upper 70s and 80s, and pollen
  • summer, which starts in mid-April and goes to about Halloween and is usually characterized by temperatures in the 90s and 100s 24 hours per day
  • pre-autumn, which starts in November and lasts approximately 2 to 3 weeks and is also characterized by lots and lots of lovely yellow pollen
  • autumn, which lasts from 8:17 AM to 8:19 AM on a random Thursday in November, usually around Thanksgiving
  • pre-winter, which lasts from about Thanksgiving to around Christmas, and is characterized by people wearing winter clothing even though they don't actually need it, because it's expected of them since it's December
  • winter, which lasts from about Christmas to early/mid February
  • pre-spring, which happens on a random day in early March
  • spring, which lasts from 3:14 AM to approximately 5:37 PM on a random Tuesday in early March
You blink, you miss spring. Them's the breaks when you live in Atlanta. Oh, and I forgot monsoon season, which overlaps pre-autumn, autum, pre-winter, winter, and pre-spring. And sometimes spring.

Pre-spring was yesterday. There's no pollen, yet, but the birds are getting excited about the weather changing, and you can sort of feel spring hovering off in the distance, unsure whether to show its face. I think the birds must be cajoling it to come out and play.

It's been cold and warm in turns, wet and dry in turns, and we've had more snow than I can remember seeing in the entire time I've lived here (approaching 11 years, now).

But last night it was glorious. Not too warm, not too cold. With just enough moisture in the air to make things smell fresh and clean, but not so much that it was falling from the sky.

I slept with my bedroom window open, and the entire upstairs of the house smelled like spring even before I got into bed last night. After several months of my breathing the same air over and over, this is a very welcome change.

The cats enjoyed it, too. I woke up at some indeterminately early hour when the sun was not yet out to the sounds of claws scrabbling on hard plastic. I know exactly what this sounds like because I've heard it before: Matt climbs the window unit air conditioner I borrowed from a friend to help keep my utility bills low in the summer. He does this to look out my bedroom window when the shades are up, which is rarely.

The neighbors have a light in their back yard that aircraft use to navigate the city by. The astronauts on the space station see it and say, "We must be over Atlanta." The Nazis could easily have adopted it for questioning prisoners of war. "Tell uz ze location uff ze reziztanze. Ve haff vays uff mehkink you talk..."

So when I awoke to the scrabbling sound (Matt is not aware that, as a feline, he can simply jump. It's kind of sad, really.) I glanced in the direction of the window and saw his silhouette framed therein, the retina-searing light of the Gestapo lamp forming a fuzzy halo around him.

Then I heard a sizzling sound. Someone was making bacon.

Mmmm, bacon. I closed my eyes and tried to drift back into the dream I was having.

Wait a minute, I thought. Bacon? That can't be right. The only ones here are me and the cats, and if they could make bacon, I'd be out on the street.

Fighting my way back into consciousness, I finally recognized the sound as rain gently falling against the house.

"Great," I thought. I wrestled my way out of bed (I have one of those foam mattresses, so "getting out of bed" actually involves a bit of gymnastics.) and over to the window in which Matt was sitting. I felt the sill. Dry. So the rain was, indeed, gentle, and not blowing in.

I left Matt to his silent vigil and crawled back into bed and drifted away again. I think I tanned from the neighbor's back-yard light. (Have I mentioned that it's really bright?)

I woke up again some time later when Matt joined me in bed. Not by jumping (see above), but by grabbing the mattress and pulling himself up.

Graceful, he's not.

I'm hoping that I have a few more weeks of being able to sleep with the window(s) open before it's so stiflingly hot that the house becomes a sauna, but from past experience I fear that I'll be wrestling the window unit back in place before long, and making do with the soothing white-noise sounds of the compressor to lull me to sleep.