It’s shaping up to be another beautiful day. The sky is a deep blue and the sun is shining, but unlike last week, the wind has died down a bit and temperatures should soar close to 60 degrees by midday. Even more exciting is the fact that I have plans to meet a friend for lunch. We will be going back to the very same drive-in I mentioned in last week’s column, only today I’m thinking of either fish and chips or a fish sandwich, both of which I had there last year and both were excellent. Maybe today we might even be able to eat outdoors at one of the picnic tables.

Last week I went alone, and although it was freezing cold and the wind was almost enough to knock me over it didn’t matter. The sun was shining, I was alive, and I was out of the house, sitting in the car with a takeout tray on my lap, eating my first fried clams of the season. I had actually gone there expecting to have just a side order of the clams, but decided that “first of the season” deserved full fare ... a nice big plate complete with coleslaw and fries.

All of the above would have been good enough, but the frosting on the cake was the fact that the music blaring from the outdoor speakers was all golden oldies stuff I knew the words to. Heck, had it not been for the fact that my mouth was full of food, I could have really cut loose and sang along with most of it.

But wait. There’s more.

In keeping with the whole mood of the moment, I even dressed accordingly for the occasion.

I have spent the whole stinking year of the pandemic dressed in what recently occurred to me looked like mourning. I hadn’t noticed until just lately that every shirt in the front stacks in my armoire were of varying shades of gray, blue gray, or dark blue, with all the pastels relegated to the unused/seldom used stacks piled up at the back. And all of my pants were black or gray sweatpants with elastic waists and ribbed ankle cuffs, the exception being my “dress-up” pandemic pants, also gray cotton knit, but without knit cuffs at the ankle.

My socks were gray ... light gray, dark gray ... or black, all the better to match my pants. Even my sneakers, sturdy Converse ground-grippers, were gray.

And my new winter jacket, although a nice medium teal, was still more subdued than normal for me. All of it, no doubt, a less than subtle reflection of the whole generally depressing time.

Then last Friday as I prepared to go out my whole mood suddenly shifted.

“Hell no!” I mentally shouted as I looked at what I had taken out to wear. “Not anymore,” I vowed as I headed back to the armoire, snatching a pair of jeans from the bottom of the stack where the one-size-larger ones live. I tried them on and was able to zip them up, no sweat, first try. On a new spring-and-jean-induced high, I paired them up with a white shirt, red sweater, white socks, and my faithful white Keds that had been stashed in the closet since last summer.

I brushed my hair up into a ponytail, grabbed last year’s old candy apple red puffer jacket from the closet, and with a new spring in my step, headed out to the car. You couldn’t have slapped the grin off my face.

Not to paint it too purple, but it felt like a full-out metamorphosis. I pictured it in my head as breaking out of a sad old gray pandemic chrysalis and emerging as a brightly colored if somewhat elderly butterfly taking wing into a promising new future.

My whole mood and attitude shifted in that moment and I haven’t looked back since. I feel almost reborn, looking ahead to warmer weather, being fully vaccinated and safely able to see family and friends again. If the weather holds out over the weekend I may even grab a rake and a leaf bag and start cleaning up all the old leaves and small branches left behind once the winds of March had blown through.

Daffodils are popping up in the perennial bed and should be in bloom by my birthday in April. The hyacinths will probably be blooming even earlier, and I could be wrong, but it looks like last year’s parsley is trying for a comeback in the herb garden as well.

President Biden and Dr. Fauci are apparently as psyched as I am and talking about there finally being a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel if we all mind our Ps and Qs and don’t do anything really stupid between now and mid-summer.

And the very best thing I am now eagerly looking forward to? A big family gathering sometime later this summer at a time as yet to be decided. I have really missed my people.

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