Fewer sweaters – for me and the dogs.

There are lots of ways to tell it’s Spring. There’s the calendar, but we all know that means not one thing to Mother Nature. There’s the buds on the trees, the 10-day forecast that stays above 50 degrees, with more rain than snow…

But in New York City, there’s a whole different set of markers to note the change of seasons. And after the longest, most drab winter in recent memory, I’ve never been more excited to see these little signs of life.

*Mar 06 - 00:05*

The temporary entryways come down from restaurant doors. These flimsy vinyl set-ups get tacked onto doorways of every diner, cafe and bakery in the city, keeping the cold air from rushing in on unsuspecting (and warm!) patrons. You know it’s Spring when they start coming down again.

You stumble into random street fairs. It happened on Saturday: I had to run into the office to pick up a couple things, and around the corner on 6th Ave, blocked off as far north and south as I could see, were rows of booths – trinkets, CDs, corn on the cob, magic wallets, gyros – all the usual stuff. You know it’s Spring when the streets close down for lemon shake-ups.

The squirrels reappear at Madison Square Park. And not just a couple, but swarms of them. They climb both trees and fences. They scurry up to unsuspecting office workers on coffee breaks, in between scurrying for what they can discover in the newly green grass. You know its Spring when the squirrels come out to say hello.

Office coffee breaks happen outside. When the much-anticipated mid-afternoon break doesn’t include layering on a coat and scarf and braving gale-force winds and driving snow, it makes the idea of enjoying the caffeine jolt while you stroll around the block simply divine. You know it’s Spring when coffee breaks become an actual breath of fresh air.

Dogs go back to being dogs. Gone are the poodles in argyle sweaters, the spaniels in puffy coats, the hounds in snow boots. And yes, I saw all these things this winter. You know it’s Spring when the only thing on dogs are their leashes.

Ice cream trucks return to every corner. Where you’re from, the ice cream trucks probably come to you, singing their cheery song up and down the suburban streets. Here in NYC, they go to no such effort. Instead they simply appear on the corner, their soft-serve and waffle cones just waiting for you to wander by. You know it’s Spring when Mister Softee is parked down the street again.

Add in the skyscrapers against a jewel-blue sky, the runners and cyclists circling Central Park, the fresh fruit stands and used book tables on sidewalks and if I didn’t know any better, I’d say we might just see Spring in New York after all.