My first symptom of spring fever hits when marshmallow “peeps” first appear on the store shelves—usually the day after Valentine’s Day. I all but ignore the neatly stacked bags of jelly beans, wrapped chocolates and Cadbury eggs, but can’t resist snagging packs of the sugary marshmallow fluff tinted yellow and shaped like a chicken. I don’t make it out of the store without digging through my purse for something sharp enough to puncture the protective cellophane. And then, with a peep in each cheek, I celebrate my first taste of spring.
Here in the Midwest, several more months usually pass before the weather starts to catch up with the calendar. Any hint of a balmy temperature—anything over 50 degrees—and I open the windows, let the fresh air flow through the house and pretend that I can’t hear the furnace kick on. I admire my flowerbed of contrasting red tulips and yellow daffodils, as well as the newly blooming forsythia bushes that run alongside the house—and then I have to turn off the television and radio so I can’t hear the warnings about an approaching early-spring snowstorm. In the garage, I faithfully tend four flats of too-early-to-plant marigolds, impatiens and begonias. Until the soil warms up outside, I keep them watered and removed from the frigid drafts that seep under the garage door at night.
When an early-spring snowstorm or still-too-cool soil darkens my mood, I think of one thing the weather can’t spoil—my stash of marshmallow peeps, hidden in the breadbox in the kitchen. They’re a little stale by now, but one poke through the cellophane proves, at least to me, that spring is absolutely here.
The AARP Bulletin's "What I Really Know" column comes from our readers. Each month we solicit short personal essays on a selected topic and post some of our favorites in print and online. Robin Wilson is a reader from South Charleston, Ohio.