Things are not always what they seem. I know this.
I've known it all my life, ever since that cold December night when I was 5, and noticed that the man who came pounding on my grandmother's door in a tacky red suit with a fake white beard, proclaiming himself to be Santa, bore an odd resemblance to my Uncle Harry.
Moreover, I noted after a quick look over his shoulder, that he was driving, not a sleigh, but a brand-new Buick, and in the company of my Aunt Iris, better known as "Weedie," who was not the sort of woman you'd ever expect to see hanging on Santa's arm.
That was my first "things are not always what they seem" experience. There have been countless others over the years. Here is my most recent.
Monday morning, soon after my husband left for work, I was knocking back a much-needed second cup of coffee when I looked out the window and saw to my surprise a man I did not know, talking on his cellphone while standing fully clothed in, yes, the deep end of our swimming pool.
I shouldn't say he was fully clothed. I assumed as much -- at least, I certainly hoped so -- but all I could honestly see above the rim of the pool was the top of his head covered with a baseball cap and the cellphone that was glued to his ear.
I took a swig of coffee, rubbed my eyes, tried my best to focus and ventured another look.
Still there. OK, stay calm, I told myself, assess the situation.
He did not appear to be in (a) immediate danger; (b) major discomfort or (c) any rush at all to get out of the pool.
What was I supposed to do? Should I offer him breakfast? A towel? A robe?
Finally, the coffee kicked in and I remembered. The pool had been drained two days ago for cleaning and repairs. He was there to acid-wash its walls.
I told you that story (against my better judgment and I will probably regret having done so) to tell you this: I am no fan of daylight saving time.
Those of us who are not morning people -- and we all know who we are -- should not be expected to wake up an hour earlier than usual and pretend everything is fine and dandy.
Everything is not fine and dandy. How can it possibly be fine and dandy if you can look out your window and see a perfectly nice man cleaning your pool and think to yourself -- if only for a few frantic moments -- that he's a lunatic about to join you for breakfast?
For me, there are only two good things about daylight saving time. First, you get that extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day, which is always a pleasure, unless you have to drag kids inside to do their homework and eat dinner and go to bed in broad daylight.
Second, and more important, it means that spring is finally, blessedly, blissfully, thankfully, almost here. I can't wait.
This winter, for some reason, has seemed unusually long and cold and dark. If it wasn't in fact, it certainly was in feeling.
I'm over it. I was over it by New Year's. I'm ready for balmy days, lingering sunsets, baby birds, bare feet, baseball ...
My granddad used to say that spring is God's way of making everything new again.
I remembered that the spring after he died and in all the springs that have followed. Still, after all these years, it's a memory that makes me smile, one I never want to forget.
Each year I look for signs of spring -- budding trees, nesting birds, wildflowers blooming in the desert. Sometimes the signs seem far away. But things are not always what they seem.
If you want to see spring, don't look for it. Close your eyes, be still and listen. The surest sign of it can't be seen. It is heard and felt in the quickening beat of a heart becoming new.lifestyle
Sharon Randall is a columnist for Scripps Howard News Service (www.sharonrandall.com).