Saturday, May 10, 2008

Minnesota Spring

I suppose, if one is going to open a blog, one should post to it, yes? In early April I was remembering what spring was like when I was growing up. This is the result ...

March brought the first hint of spring in northern Minnesota, though not in the way most people would recognize. From mid-December through January the night temperatures would plunge below zero and anything above 15 degrees during the day was considered warm. Here and there blasts of arctic air would slide over us, sending the thermometer ever downward: –30, -40, -45 degrees. During these times we waited for the day when the temperature would be above zero again – warmth!

February often brought some relief. It felt balmy as the twenties came into view. But March! During March the nights were still well below freezing, but during the day, oh during the day there was an increasing chance that we would have a day above freezing and then the snow would begin to slowly melt, sending rivulets of frigid water down the street gutters, only to freeze again at night and create crusty layers of ice that might just break if we walked on them – never mind the cold water underneath that would creep into our boots and chill our feet to the bone. It was no longer safe to drive on the lakes and soon the fish houses were taken off the ice and tucked away until next year.

The snow piles we walked to school began to give way and the forts that little boys had dug into drifts were no longer safe. Slowly, slowly the layers of white began to dissolve and some days, instead of rivulets, there were small streams flowing in the streets – wonderful places to build dams made of snow and ice.

Even on warm days the air was crisp and cool. The piles of snow and frozen ground were an ice pack, chilling everything around. Buildings began very slowly to release their cold and the days of beautiful frost patterns on the inside of my bedroom window, despite storm windows and a south and west exposure, were long gone.

Such freedom, such release this brought but slowly, ever so slowly. And then the last ice was usually ‘out’ of the lakes by mid-May, a signal that the old season, winter, was gone and a new season begun. The tulips and daffodils bloomed, the lilacs that smothered our town, were in bud and ready to burst into flower come a day or two of warmth.

And, it seems, so was I. Thinking, reminiscing about those days still creates a fullness in me, the sense of sweet promise and hope and unfettered joy that I seldom experience these days. It’s a loss, I think.

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