My favorite part of every year has always been the first time, around here it is generally in early to mid-March, when you get a string of two or three or four days that promise Spring. The mercury inches toward sixty and the daffodils and crocuses begin to pop bold green shoots out of the muddy earth. The tulips are either lazy or know well enough that another cold snap is inevitable and they will wait several weeks more before taking their chances.
In recent years, the best part of these fleeting, teasing days, is releasing the children from the house sans boots and hats and mittens and parkas and trotting along behind them as they gallop around the neighborhood as if they had never seen the sun before. And this year, these past few days have brought along some amazing discoveries. Like that Mia can ride her bike. I mean really ride it - uphill, downhill, one-handed, side saddle, even with her eyes closed. That if you teach her once how to pick the downhill slope rather than the uphill one when making a u-turn she will try it tentatively once or twice and then do it for hours without slowing down. And Owen - Owen knows the names of everything and what it does and what it is for and that he should not eat it. And he can ride a scooter and jump off the curb. And he can swing. Really swing, just like a big kid, holding on with both hands and calling for "other push other push!"
We spent this afternoon just running around the yard - bouncing from sandbox to basketball to playhouse to swingset. Mia and I even pulled some weeds, resilient little buggers, while Owen shoveled up the last of our snow and relocated it to various spots around the yard. We counted the goldfish in the pond and marveled at how they managed to survive the winter. We chased a neighbor's cat and left out peanuts for the chipmunks that live under our porch and drew undersea mountains in chalk on the driveway. And I know that by August I will he saying hey, kids, couldn't we just sit quietly inside today and read some books, today, being able to run around outside with my suddenly so big kids seems like one of the high points of my life.