An Ode To Pavement

Friday, March 6, 2009 at 04:47PM

I was out walking early this morning. As I stepped out into the dark I could already feel the warmth of this exceptional March day. I saw a couple of young raccoons cavorting and I smelled a skunk. They must have waken up thinking that spring is here. They must be pretty hungry. But the ground is still frozen and so are the grubs. The skunks have nothing to do  but wander around and stink.

But this particular warm day just might tip the scales toward spring. This might warm up and dry the pavement so that you can feel it beckoning to bicycle tires and running shoes and rollerblades and street hockey games. When I was a kid and the first warm spell of spring arrived and we could safely put on lighter clothes and ditch the boots in favour of sneakers (not new sneakers, but last years broken-in, barely -there sneakers), it felt like the rest of nature must have felt in spring. Like a new set of feathers, a fresh skin. All that winter weight was gone and walking anywhere felt like you were walking downhill. I just wanted to run and run and run. Especially at night. I can still see me and my friends running under the streetlights down Lakeside Drive, our shadows catching up and passing us and falling behind again. We could smell the lake and the earth of the park, but the grass was still saturated with the melted snow and you'd get soakers in your ratty old, broken-in running shoes, so you stayed on the beautiful, wonderfully dry pavement of spring and smelled the lake and talked about going fishing.

And although the days were getting longer, it was the nights that opened up to us again, allowed us to stay out a little longer and wander to other neighbourhoods and other streetlights. The snow banks had us hemmed-in and now the snow banks were gone and the pavement was back.

Kevin Roach