July 6, 2020

Busting Out of Winter and Rolling into Spring

Illustration by George Danby

Illustration by George Danby

• By John F. Chisholm •

The Daimler came home last week.

I longed for the day all winter.

The temperatures were below freezing at first light.  A chilly fog wrapped the landscape.  It had lifted to a 500-foot ceiling by the time Tony Alberts arrived at nine.  His red MGB idled noisily in the drive, headlamps cutting the morning gray.

I ran down the stairs, throwing on a flat cap and struggling into my leather flight jacket.  I was ready.  In fact, ‘ready’ didn’t really describe me.  I was so far past ready that nothing short of a driving blizzard would have given me pause.

It was the season’s first excursion for Tony and his MG, too.  We bundled into the car, pulling on gloves and tightening our collars.  Tony reached for his shades.  I adjusted my dark glasses.  (Appearance is everything.  Simply because you’ve waited all winter for a day doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do it right.)  With a blip of the throttle, the MG growled in reverse out onto the road.  Then Tony turned the heater to ‘HIGH’, selected first gear and we were off.

Yeah.  The top was down.

When two grown men yearn for half a year, 34 degrees and overcast is hardly sufficient deterrent.  In fact, good sense isn’t merely a lost cause, sanity doesn’t even enter the equation.

We garnered more than a few glances on our way but our confidence remained unshaken.

By ten o’clock the overcast lifted further and began to break.  I grudgingly took the weatherman off my hit list.

At a quarter to eleven we arrived in Searsport on a splendid spring day.  I climbed stiffly from the MG, sunshine just beginning to thaw my limbs.  The Daimler had its hardtop repaired and refitted over the winter.  Doug and Dwayne at English Auto outdid themselves.  Chrome gleamed.  Paint reflected, waxed and shiny.  The car stood ready on the garage floor, the steamy midnight dream of middle-aged men.

Of course when summer finally arrives I’ll remount the convertible top.  But I have to get the Daimler home to do it.  It’s simply the usual irony of antique car lust that I drove to Searsport in a convertible on an overcast morning with an average temperature of 40 degrees, while the trip back was under a hardtop in sunshine and 60.

But none of that mattered.

Our cars growled and prowled, climbing hills, spinning down the far sides.  Corners to the left and right took our breath away.  Wire-spoked wheels laced flashing light.  Antique gauges read delight reflected in our faces.

I smiled inanely the entire trip, down and back.

My feelings didn’t stop after the cars were put away and the sun went down.  I called Tony at eight in the evening to congratulate him.  I still couldn’t get over it.  “What a day!”

Isn’t it curious how expectations, more than the weather, and attitudes beyond the facts make success so stunning?