Answer: Bare toes. Question: How can you tell it's spring?
Mrs. Linklater knows that the first sign of spring is supposed to be flowers. A field of dandelions, a bed of daffodils, and a bouquet of tulips -- all harbingers of spring.
But how many times have you seen a bunch of naive little crocuses sticking their purple, white and yellow heads up through a cold chunk of snow? Making all the other flowers think it's time to bloom. Ha!! Fooled you!
So, as much as we like flowers, they can't really be trusted when it comes to deciding when spring has sprung.
Which begs the question -- how do you know when it's spring, Mrs. Linklater?
Why, thanks for asking.
Mrs. Linklater believes that the only legitimate sign of spring is when toes come out. Yep, toes. Not just any toes, mind you. Sorry, guys.
It may seem sexist, but Mrs. Linklater is not talking about male toes -- with all due respect to the many fine male feet out there. Well, both of them.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Linklater has seen far too many male toes out in the arctic windchills of January and February, to consider them signs of spring.
Usually they are signs that a sock drawer is empty. Reduced to lint.
In fact, so frequent are these sightings that no one even blinks at a male college student dressed as a homeless person, mainlining coffee at a White Hen Pantry, in a pair of wrinkled shorts, a hooded sweatshirt and sandals.
Without socks. Walking through snowdrifts. Against the wind.
No, the real signs of spring are when women's toes make their appearance.
Freed from the bonds of boots, female feet come out to play. With toes accessorized in fabulous colors not found in nature, but often seen on "Pimp My Ride."
No longer content with mere pinks and reds, toe plummage has evolved to include blues, greens, yellows, lavenders, and even browns.
Mrs. Linklater's current favorite is "Kinky in Helsinki," an O.P.I. creation that isn't quite purple, isn't quite mauve and isn't quite fuschia.
It does remind her of her brother's old Triumph motorcycle, which was painted with seventeen coats of Candy Apple Red.
Other colors she's keeping on tap for June and the rest of the summer include a batch from O.P.I.'s Greek Isles collection -- their toenail polish homage to the Olympics, which may actually take place this summer.
Thus the names, "Greece Just Blue Me Away," "Melon of Troy," "Ti Tan Your Toga," and "Your Villa or Mine."
Mrs. Linklater wonders how many people stayed up nights coming up with these monikers.
"Fee Fi Fo Plum" and "London Bridges Falling Brown" are two more that make her smile in admiration for all their efforts.
Mrs. Linklater's fantastically unfettered feet are out and about as of last weekend, when the thermometer broke eighty for more than just a couple of hours. And stopped plunging to thirty-five at night.
She's flashing her freshly lacquered toes like a neon sign in Las Vegas, letting the sun catch the color so her pinkies look as pretty as a 1958 Cadillac Eldorado.
Yo, her feet are phat.