“I know it’s fixin’ to be spring,” said Dud.

“Things budding out on your trees and stuff, Dud?” added Steve.

“Nope. Potato chip bags. Found two of them the other day.”

We looked … inquisitive? And it was enough to get Dud back into action.

“Two of them. One was stuck on that big ol’ rosebush we have, and the other one was up in the elm tree, just out of reach. That’s usually the first sign, you know.”

“Okay,” said Doc, “I’ll bite. How, Dudley, are potato chip bags harbingers of spring?”

“The wind, of course,” Dud said. “First comes the potato chip bags on gentle zephyrs. Next week we’ll probably get old garbage bags on the back wall and in the trees. That’s kinda Phase Two, you see. I got this worked out pretty good now. I’m thinking of putting it in the book.”

“You mean the Duchess and the Truck Driver?”

“Its actual title is Murder in the Soggy Bottoms, Doc.”

“Still sounds like wet diapers to me,’ said Steve.

“So Dud, when does buds swelling on the fruit trees come in? Phase Three?”

“Sometimes you get a few buds during Phase three, but we have to wait until later, usually. Phase Three I have as toys. You know, you find a dolly or little plastic truck and start hunting an unhappy kid to return it.”

“Is there a Phase Four wind, Dud?”

He smiled. “Yep. Cinder blocks.”

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