Thursday, February 6, 2014

Expiration Dates

I mentioned something in a recent newspaper column that bears repeating here. It’s a way of looking beyond the present and anticipating the future. In this case, it’s a way to put the cold and snow of winter in a box and isolate it while we welcome the coming spring.

I refer to expiration dates printed on perishable items such as eggs. I bought a carton of eggs two days ago and noticed that the expiration date was March 13. That’s only seven days away from the first day of spring.

Likewise, I was in the eye doctor’s office last week and the receptionist made out a card for my next appointment. It was in early May. The first thing that came to mind had nothing to do with eye health, either. Instead, I thought, “Spring. That’s spring. I’ll be fiddleheading and trolling for salmon.”

So near and yet so far, spring is, especially when nighttime temperatures sit a zero and don’t budge until mid-morning the next day.

Of course I don’t pay much attention to expiration dates on egg cartons in fall, because it only reminds me of impending winter and the end of growing things, at least for a while. But now, in late winter, every little bit of cheer I can latch on to helps to buoy my spirits.

Everything passes, including winter. Soon sap will drip from maple limbs broken during December’s ice storm. Flocks of red-winged blackbirds will descend upon fields and lawns and wild plants will push up through the newly-thawed soil. It won’t be long now. And if you don’t believe me, just check out the date on a carton of eggs. 

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