At Random: Spring means open doors and windows

BY DANNY HEITMAN

There are only a few days in Louisiana, in early spring or late fall, when the weather is neither too hot nor too cold, allowing us to leave our doors and windows open without discomfort or mosquitoes.

Such a day arrived a couple of Sundays ago, when my wife suggested that we open both of the French doors leading to our front porch to let in some fresh air.

So we unlatched the doors and threw them wide, the threshold to our living room extending itself, like a pair of outstretched arms, to greet the coming spring.

The house seemed to exhale after its winter confinement, and my wife and I relaxed, too, sitting on the porch for afternoon coffee while the sky alternated between bright sunshine and the threat of rain.

I liked the way that the open doors dissolved the boundary between in and out — birdsong floating across the welcome mat and into the kitchen, my son’s cello rehearsal spilling out from his perch near the sofa and into the yard.

Fetching our coffee mugs and returning to the porch, I spotted our son unlatching his cello case for his impromptu recital. The case is big and white and formidable, as solemn as a sarcophagus, and I’m always surprised that such a somber container can hold an instrument that gives us so much joy.

Not that everything my son plays is happy or upbeat. He’s fond of warming up with “Auld Lang Syne,” using it to clear his head the way that some pianists loosen their fingers by tapping out “Chopsticks” on the keyboard.

My son, who’s 12, didn’t know until recently that “Auld Lang Syne” is an anthem of New Year’s Eve, a song about familiar bonds and our resolve to preserve them from the march of time. He plays the tune with whimsy rather than wistfulness, his life not yet freighted with enough years to grasp the emotional resonance of what he’s performing.

Even so, my eyes misted a little as I sat on the porch and sipped my coffee, strains of “Auld Lang Syne” wafting through the open door and into the shrubbery.

My little pang of nostalgia startled me. I know that “Auld Lang Syne” can prompt a lump in the throat as midnight chimes on a new year, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the song’s staying power on a mild weekend near the start of spring.

The year is still young in March, after all, and presumably, this is not yet the time for teary reflections on the turning of the calendar.

But maybe there’s some value in hearing “Auld Lang Syne” as spring begins, too. The song’s abiding message about the fleetingness of time isn’t a bad thing to remember in a season that never lasts as long as we’d like.

Spring is the shortest season of the year in south Louisiana — a few temperate weeks between winter’s chill and the furnace of summer. These are days to savor on a front porch at the close of a weekend, knowing that soon, we’ll have to shut the doors and windows once again, the house an air-conditioned fortress against May and June, July and August.