Though it's technically spring, summer is in the air.
This means the roadside BBQ spits will be smoking, long-dormant motorcycles and boats will be taken for a spin, and every weekend from now until Halloween will be filled with food, fun and Ohioans mad with weather-related joy, hoping to squeeze every last second of it before winter.
T-tops aren't the only thing being shed. Ohioan skin, for months hidden by thick fleece, wool and corduroys, is being exposed to the elements, and, like some kind of translucent cave salamander, takes those first timid, blinding steps into actual sunshine. Flesh is instantly burned, eyes squint shut, but it feels good to be finally free.
I recently took that one small step for spring - one giant leap for Ohioans. I cast off my leggings and ventured outdoors naked from the knees down. Now, most of you know that nothing reveals your flaws like bright, natural sunlight - and when you're out in public, to boot. My first go-round without pants revealed that I seem to be much veinier than last year, and that my leg razor must be made out of safety scissors. Aghast, I vowed to resolve that and was secretly glad I was only surrounded by fish.
A few days - and degrees - later, it was deemed sandal weather. So off came my Keds, and out came my Frankenstein toes. I must be part Hobbit, because no girl should have toes that hairy. Also, it looked like I was playing kickball with a jagged ball of sandpaper. An evening sofa pedicure session was scheduled, and feet were filed and painted back to human form.
Speaking of feet, it was also time for the annual shoe rotation. I have a giant wooden box where I keep most of my many, many, many shoes. In winter, I say goodbye to my lovely sandals and heels and hello to clunky, practical winter shoes. While black boots look very chic with a winter ensemble, most of winter is relegated to shoes you don't mind having covered in sub-zero mush. Very depressing.
So, in the interest of space and time, I swap out my most-worn shoes of the season and line them up where they can be grabbed as I run out the door. I was relieved to toss bulky, salt-stained shoes into the box, and fish out my shiny blue sandals, pink kitten heels, yellow polka-dot espadrilles, gold gladiator sandals and other long-lost friends of fashion. Now that the toes peeping from them were less ogre-y, it was time to strut.
But again, the toll of Ohio body hibernation kicked in. That virgin between-the-toe skin instantly became blistered, as only a week or so of flip-flop training can break in that sensitive spot. The strut came to a screeching halt, as I spent the rest of the day gingerly shuffling. Band-Aids were peeled.
Last weekend, I took my kayak and a friend to Geneva-on-the-Lake, where I took an extended paddle around Lake Erie. After an hour on the water, I remembered that my arms hadn't seen sun that direct since the beginning of football season. Uh oh. After exposing my unindoctrinated friend to the beauty that is Eddie's Grill, I got back into the car, full and happy, but also fried to a crisp. And my T-shirt made for a weird pattern on my driving arm. Unevenly burnt, but at least off to a good start on outdoor presentability.
One more springtime frontier - allergies - was also fought and defeated. The first week of being exposed to freshly cut grass, flowers and nature in general was frought with runny noses, sore throats and nagging coughs. My poor sinuses were used to breathing inside air, and outside winter air was devoid of living plant life. That first week was chock-full of lovely pollens and danders, and boy, was it miserable. But my body, used to such rigors, quickly built up whatever nose-defense it needed to actually drive to work without sneezing so hard I veered off the road.
So, I emerge into summer a victor - legs de-pastified, toes de-haired, sinuses de-allergized. No need for a plastic bubble just yet. But it's not even June. Bring on the goldenrod and UV rays, summer. I'll be slathered in sunscreen and chowing down Claritin. With shoes to match.