Spring ain't sprung, the fleas have friz

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Spring is sprung,

The grass is riz ...

What grass?

Don't even get me started on the flowers. All I see on TV is Scott's Turf Builder commercials, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to look at something green.

This pallid excuse for a spring has been trying and disappointing at best and downright punishing at worst. Especially for Punxsutawney Phil, who was actually indicted for fraudulently promising an early spring.

(People, look at the calendar. Groundhog Day is Feb. 2. Six weeks from there gets you to mid-March. Mid-March. There are never even leaves on the trees in mid-March. If there are one or two warm days in mid-March, it's not an "early spring" -- it's a hoax, usually followed by an I've-got-your-first-day-of-spring-right-here snow. March comes in like a lion and goes out like a slightly less vicious lion. If they'd give Phil a cup of coffee and a waffle and let him wake up before they ask, he'd ALWAYS predict six more weeks of winter.)

Fortunately, the charges were dropped when one of Phil's handlers took the rap, and I think we've all learned a valuable lesson about investing our hopes and dreams in the guesses of a groggy marmot.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, winter's extra innings (cricket innings over there, which are metric) brought freakish cold and snow, including massive drifts that buried livestock and left windswept islands and remote villages without power for days. Buildings collapsed, travel was impossible, tea was cold.

"Now is the winter of our discontent made the spring of our discontent. Please send a wind-powered kettle. Also mayonnaise, as we are nearly out and Gran refuses to eat anything without it."

They're expecting the unusual chill to continue well into April, when it will be replaced in the North of England and Scotland by the usual chill, which continues through the summer.

The cold weather gripping Europe caused a small tragedy there that brought tears to my eyes even though I am a dog owner:

An entire German flea circus succumbed to subfreezing weather. The circus director told the BBC he had to hastily attempt to replace all 300 fleas, discovered dead last week in their transport box.

I think what got me was The Associated Press photograph of a flea proudly harnessed via a gold wire to a tiny ornate cart. Can a flea look proud? I think it can, if it's given a job and a chance to make something of itself.

Circus director Robert Birk was very affected by the discovery that instead of a company of highly trained circus performers he suddenly had, in his hands, a box of dead bugs.

The circus had a gig, and fortunately, a university entomologist was able to round up 60 replacement fleas for the show, booked at an open-air fair, which seems like a terrible risk after what the air did to the original troupe.

Mr. Birk undertook two days of intensive training for the replacement fleas so that the children and other flea-circus enthusiasts wouldn't be disappointed. The show must go on, though he told the press he thought the recruits "lacked a little pizzazz."

You know, you can't teach pizzazz.

And maybe that's what we're all struggling with here in this grim alleged spring: We haven't had our barn collapse and lost our lambs; we haven't been indicted, most of us; we haven't opened a box of frozen fleas. But maybe we're weary of waiting and waiting, shivering, in a puff of our own breath, for a little pizzazz.

I don't know. But I do know this: The Groggy Marmot would be a great name for a bar. They'd have Turf Builder -- on tap.


Samantha Bennett, freelance writer: sambennett412@gmail.com.


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