Mar. 30—Ah, spring. That magical time of year when a young man's fancy turns to ducking for cover when walking in downtown Lewiston.
Spring has come, sort of, to our fair corner of the world and I've been around long enough to know that a few things can be expected. Like the smell of gunsmoke hanging in the air on Bartlett Street — over the past decade or so, random gunfire has become a seasonal ritual in Lewiston.
It's an odd thing, really. Around the time the last of the snow is melting in our backyards and eager flowers are starting to push through garden beds, folks living in Lewiston's busy residential downtown will be serenaded by the rat-a-tat-tat song of gunplay. It's as though the robins themselves are popping caps to mark the coming of the season.
It's a real treat for bird-watchers.
"Did you hear that, Matilda? According to my book, that was either a waylaid yellow-breasted dickcissel or a Glock 19 firing jacketed rounds."
The springtime gunfire is almost never accompanied by any obvious signs of violence. No bleeding victims, brawlers in the street or any of that action. Just a few shell casings fallen to the cold pavement like the last dead leaves from a winter-weary tree.
Or something. That leaf thing is pretty stupid. Let's move on.
Springtime is also a period where we will see a mass migration of small boats that have wandered away from their docks.
Soon we will start to see stories from perplexed police officers trying to track down the owners of canoes, kayaks and row boats that were found floating in the random bends of ponds, lakes and streams.
It happens when you combine the eagerness of recreational boaters with the fierce and fickle winds of spring.
On particularly gusty days, boats will disappear from one lake only to be found in an entirely separate lake in another county. I can only conclude that, as it is with so many species, springtime is mating seasons for boats and they just want to run off and get busy.
The next time you see a canoe and kayak bumping up against each other out on Lake Auburn, how about a little privacy, huh?
And potholes. So many potholes.
Back in the day, when you had a particularly nasty crater in the street in front of your house, you had to resign yourself to making angry calls to City Hall and describing said hole to your long-suffering colleagues at the office.
"Busted my axle and knocked three fillings right outta my mouth," you will tell them," but nobody really believes you because you tend to be dramatic about sooooo many things.
Oh, but these days, you have social media. These days you can get right down on the ground with your nemesis pothole and photograph it from a hundred different angles, making sure to include all the dented hubcaps and tooth fillings that lay scattered across the street like shabby jewels. Then you can post it all to Facebook with a 5,000-word rant describing your rage in intimate detail and those fools at the office will HAVE to believe you now, won't they!
And public nudity? Oh, it's on the way, bros. Nudity around these parts is as much a sign of spring as that sickly looking crocus your wife demands that you look at every single time you walk down your driveway.
"Aw," she will gush. "Will you just LOOK at that crocus struggling for life even as the snow melts around it?"
"Forget that," you will say. "Check out the naked dude raking his yard across the street."
Happens every spring. Soon, the police scanner will positively crackle with reports of nakedness all over the land. Naked people will be skateboarding down crowded sidewalks, struttin' their stuff through Kennedy Park, ordering food at drive-thru windows, riding bicycles (which always seems particularly perilous to me) or trying to check out books at the local library.
Why is spring the season of flesh on our downtown streets? No mystery there, bub. For six months, we have all been required to dress in five layers of thick, confining clothes every time we so much as step outside of our doors to check the mail.
The very minute the temperature creeps up above freezing for the first time, don't you just want to fling it all off and go for a liberated walkabout?
Sure you do. Go right now, I say! Just remember to watch for pot holes, duck when you hear the sound of gunfire and take plenty of pictures for Facebook.
God, I just love spring.