A week ago, I told myself that spring was here to stay, and I, for one, was ready for it.

   It was a beautiful day, balmy and clear. The sun was so bright I wanted to lower the shade on the patio. But a pair of brown birds, plain as a couple of grocery bags, had built a fine little nest in the gap between the roof and the rolled-up shade.
   It’s bound to be spring, I told myself, if you’ve got birds nesting in your sun shade.
   For the first time in months it was actually warm enough to eat outdoors. So we decided to celebrate by inviting a few friends over for dinner on the patio _ really good friends who might not mind getting attacked by a swarm of kamikaze gnats.
   Gnats are not generally a big problem here in the desert outside Las Vegas. For one thing, it’s too dry. It’s too dry for a camel, let alone for a gnat.
   Also, we are blessed with an abundance, say, a bazillion, give or take, of fruit bats _ little hideous looking flying vacuum cleaners that live under the tiles of our roofs and come out on warm nights to suck up anything that flies.
   I try to avoid doing anything that might be mistaken for flying.
   So where’s a good fruit bat when you need one? There were none in sight that night. Nothing but gnats. More gnats than I had ever seen. And trust me, I have seen my share.
   At one point I looked at my friend Linda and realized to my horror that her lovely blonde hair looked like a T-bone steak sizzling on the grill, thickly coated with coarse black pepper.
   “Here, honey,” I said, smiling, “let me refill your glass.”
   That’s a little secret I learned years ago growing up in the South. Bugs are easier to swallow if your glass is full.
   I’ll say this: You know you invited the right folks to your party if they don’t whine and carry on about getting bug-bit.
   I had no one to blame but myself, really. I should’ve kept the bug zapper that my cousins gave us for a wedding gift.
   The day after the gnat supper, a cold snap moved in and froze my hopes for spring. I was not pleased. I can’t speak for the gnats, but I suspect they weren’t exactly thrilled about it, either.
   Mid-week, I flew to Texas to speak at a luncheon for the Abilene Women’s Club.
   Have you ever been to Texas when the hills are green and the bluebonnets are in full bloom? Add to that a heavy dose of Texas hospitality and you will find it, as I did, hard to leave.
   When I landed in Vegas, it was drizzling and cold.
   But sometimes Mother Nature likes to tease.
   Yesterday, without fanfare, the clouds parted over the desert, the air warmed, sunlight glittered on snowcapped mountains, and a breeze rustled the palm trees in our backyard.
   Not quite pool weather yet, but definitely spring.
   We were sitting on the patio, my husband and I, watching a dazzling neon sunset. The bats were out in full force, flying figure-eights above our heads.
   When the phone rang in the kitchen, I went inside to answer.
   It was Ron, our next door neighbor, who could easily have talked to us over the fence, had he not been holed up inside his house, fearing for his life.
   He said a lot of words fast, all bunched together, but the most important word was this: Bees.
   A giant swarm, he said, had flown into his back yard and was clustering on a retaining wall just across the fence from where my husband sat blissfully enjoying the sunset and a lovely glass of wine.
   Birds, bees, gnats, bats.
   Surely spring has sprung.

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