Flower petals swirl in the wind, grass turns from brown to green, birds fill the air with song.
Yes, yes, we know about all that. The obvious signs of spring. And sure, they're all beautiful and awesome, and you should savor every moment, but that's not what we're here to talk about today.
This is Southwest Colorado, and we have our own unique, local signs of spring.
This is the time of year when someone around you will say, "Hey, the river turned brown. Is something wrong?"
You will have to inform this newbie the ugly truth, that the color is brown and the drinking water now is unsafe because the sewage system in Silverton overflowed again. If only Otto Mears would get around to fixing it.
The calendar says spring officially began March 20. Around here, we know that to be bunkum - an artificial human naming of the seasons that might hold true for, say, Louisville, Ky., but means little here.
This is what happens on March 20 in the Northern Hemisphere: The sun reaches a point in the sky where daylight hours begin to outnumber nighttime hours.
However, this is what March 20 truly signifies in Durango: There's another month ahead when the wind will blow buses over, when snow will cover your tomatoes, and when, if you're too optimistic and naïve, you'll wish you hadn't put your winter parka into storage.
But really, the kind of spring you can thoroughly enjoy, that you can relish as an actual permanent change of season, doesn't occur here until just about now. And even then, it's a bit tenuous. Winter here tends to hide and strike when least expected. Like that shy mountain lion you didn't realize was stalking you.
We can tell it's spring here because of the train smoke. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge officially begins its run to Silverton this time of year. That means you must be ready to smile and wave as you wait on Ninth Street for the train cars to pass.
Oh, come on. It's fun. It's a great opportunity to show your community spirit. What else do you have to do during your idling time? And, OK, if you really want to, you can smile while simultaneously muttering expletives under your breath. They'll never know.
Speaking of waiting for cars, you know it's spring when the day arrives that it's possible to cross Camino del Rio at 12th Street without playing real-life Frogger. Without the college students, without the spring breakers, our population dwindles to a manageable level. (Of course, the coming of tourists signifies summer and more traffic, but that's another column.)
Along the Animas River Trail, you find the season brings fair-weather fans - not to mention those rangers in their golf carts. Do we really need the rangers? The city could consider installing speed cameras. Everyone loves those.
We know it's spring because town talk turns to lack of sports fields, to starting softball games at 9:30 p.m. on a work night. Talk turns to river permits, to gardening, to battles with dandelions, to the opening of the Farmers Market.
Take a look at roof racks on vehicles in the grocery store parking lot. Notice how those ski mounts have changed to bike mounts? That's spring.
It's also true that we have other things to do, come spring, besides reading the morning paper. So let's get out and enjoy the day.
And we'll finish with the one true sign that it's really spring:
We not concentrate goode on work. Weather too distractionish.
John Peel writes a weekly