We Midwesterners finally got a taste of Spring this past week, with a quick jump in temperature that melted the last of the early-March snow, and a close inspection of our front yard shows the tulips have noticed the change, and have started poking their noses out to take a whiff of the changing seasons. This is one of my favorite aspects of living in Indianapolis – the fact that we get all four “classic” seasons, and the start of each is always a fun time of the year.
Our kids obviously are taught about the seasons at a very young age via board books and the like, but if you grow up in Florida, for instance, you may wonder about the page with the snowman on it, and the farther north you go, the spectrum shifts the other way. But here we get hot summers, cold winters, and beautiful Springs and Falls, both of which can be almost perfectly metaphorical when experienced alongside a child (or with that childlike sense of wonder that the luckiest of adults retain). Fall has the rich colors and noble decay, but Spring of course is all about renewal, rebirth, refreshing one’s self after a winter spent inside and venturing back into the warming world.
Case in point: those tulip shoots. But not everything’s green yet; the trees are still just getting started with those tiny buds. And yet the youngster and I got a great dose of the quintessential Spring color March 17, as downtown Indianapolis threw its own green party with the St. Patrick’s Day parade and celebration.
Not having attended a Catholic school (like some of my nieces and nephews), I never experienced having St. Patrick’s Day off as a child – my memories of it are basically tied to wearing a green item of clothing, attending school, and giving good-natured (and not so good-natured – sister!) pinches. And yet now, having young kids not yet of school age, the idea of a free parade downtown is too fun to pass up, especially if the weather completes the picture, as it did this year.
We sadly had to miss the “greening of the canal” on the eve of the holiday, but did stop by to see the unique colors, which gives a different look to some of the classic downtown Indy views. But first we had to see the parade. It’s no Macy’s Day extravaganza, but again, we’re talking about impressing a two-year-old: the funny cars (wienermobile, anyone?), mascot costumes, bagpipe bands, high-bands and dancers, and especially the people handing out candy and green bead necklaces, were sufficient. And although it’s harder to put one’s finger on, the vibe downtown was great. Lots of smiles, which were probably partly due to the good spirits associated with the holiday, but also might owe something to the weather this week having taken a step in the right direction.
The spectacle of the day was definitely enough to make me want to take the kids to more parades. There’s something special about such events that makes our city seem bigger, and seem like a more magical place to the kids, and for myself, as I do tend to look at the world from my kids’ perspective a lot these days.
I’m not sure what the youngster learned about Irish culture or heritage, as she was mostly concerned with the lollipops, but as I mentioned before, this holiday – at least as celebrated in the Midwest – tends to take on a broader metaphorical sense, as it drapes the city in green just at that time when the whites of Winter are fading and the greens of Spring are just around the corner. It’s a great time to get out and get some fresh air.