I know the days for the traditional rites of spring have come and gone. Officially, we're already more than halfway through the season. Yet when I look out the window — as I'm doing while writing this — I see no hint of approaching summer as I would have by now in the small German village where I grew up.

Back there & then, spring used to start in early April and gently creep up on us as if someone above was adding an extra drop of fabric softener to each new day. And the more delicately this proceeded, the more it aroused us.

By mid-spring, we were a-rage with spring fever. We wanted to rush, rush, and rush, all while praying that those tender days and nights with their intoxicating scents of lilac and apple blossom and grass fattening itself on green again might never end. And it was delicious to be so addled.

Spring here is so different. It builds like tension in a coil. You wait and wait and often don't even notice how some of the tension has leaked and quietly sprouted bits of the very thing you've been holding your breath for — small carpets of crocuses, gaunt stands of daffodils and tulips, fuzzy paws on willows.

Then comes the random day when the coil snaps, and everything seems to snap with it. Shorts come out. T-shirts. Sandals and flip-flops. Motorbikes and tattoos. New smiles and laughter.

And yet the light remains wan and haunted even weeks after the snap, and the caplin chill keeps loitering outside The Narrows ready to come barging in at the slightest shift of the wind.

A great cosmic message

Maybe it's time to give this unpredictable state of affairs a bit more man-made structure.

Ancient Europe had Beltane, when men dressed as women and fools were given crowns to wear, just to make sure everybody got the great cosmic message that things can change and do as they go round and round.

Ancient Europe also had a day in May when all affairs were handed over to the May King and Queen, the former chosen by contest, the latter by consensus. Why can't we have a similar ritual here?

All I see of the Beltane spirit here is when politicians and other higher-ups don aprons at lent time and spend a day flipping pancakes for the homeless, like gods come down to visit the mortals to assure them they haven't been forgotten.

What I don't see is the obverse — mortals being invited to live like the gods for one ritual day, taste their nectar of power and their freedom to make decisions without immediate consequences.

Ancient Europe also had a day in May when all affairs were handed over to the May King and Queen, the former chosen by contest, the latter by consensus. Why can't we have a similar ritual here?

We should by now be past the primitive method of selecting winners by contest. Let there be a spring lottery for our own May kings and queens — three lucky persons who get to spend a day in the house of assembly as the leaders of the official parties. And there let them celebrate the new life.

Let the usual speakers be silent and the usually silent speak.

Let the losers of the debate win and the winners lose.

Let a good speech be followed by laughter and a bad speech by weeping.

And, for once, let the leaders wear their fool's caps with pride.