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Cold Spring

February 10, 2016

In the “careful what you wish for” category, as soon as I wrote last week’s piece about the sameness of February, I was jolted out of it by Eleanor’s urgent care visit turning into a hospital stay and so I made an impromptu trip to Tucson, Arizona.IMG_3601

Hospitals are about the same all over, and she got better, so that part went as well as it could have. I had one day to enjoy the 79 degree temperatures and the blue skies before I had to fly home, so tried to make the most of it. We had lunch outside at a place that serves “Sonora-style” hot dogs, which Ron and I were amazed to hear that Eleanor likes (she has never been much of a meat eater, much less hot dogs).

IMG_3612People in Tucson were walking around in coats and hats, but I found my fleece jacket a bit warm except between 10 pm-8 am. When I got back to Columbus, of course, the fleece jacket wasn’t quite warm enough, but it sufficed for a brisk walk out to my car in the airport parking garage. During the second half of my drive home, on the rural, two-lane roads, it was snowing and blowing snow.

Now I am back, having seen colors besides black and white. I have hope that in the next month there will be crocus, and I remember how it feels to believe that “if I’m not happy it must be my own fault,” as in this poem by Lawrence Raab:

Cold Spring

The last few gray sheets of snow are gone,
winter’s scraps and leavings lowered
to a common level. A sudden jolt
of weather pushed us outside, and now
this larger world once again belongs to us.
I stand at the edge of it, beside the house,
listening to the stream we haven’t heard
since fall, and I imagine one day thinking
back to this hour and blaming myself
for my worries, my foolishness, today’s choices
having become the accomplished
facts of change, accepted
or forgotten. The woods are a mangle
of lines, yet delicate, yet precise,
when I take the time to look closely.
If I’m not happy it must be my own fault.
At the edge of the lawn my wife
bends down to uncover a flower, then another.
The first splurge of crocuses.
And for a moment the sweep and shudder
of the wind seems indistinguishable
from the steady furl of water
just beyond her.

IMG_3617Briefly, I felt what it’s like when “this larger world once again belongs to us.” When I go out into the cold, I may just pretend that it’s night-time in the desert, and that when the sun comes up I won’t need this hat and gloves, that heavy coat, this scarf.

Winter will last for another month here. How much longer will your winter last?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2016 1:14 pm

    I think ours is just about to start. It has been remarkably mild here in the English Midlands, although we have had some wild and damaging storms. However, the forecast for the next week at least is much colder with snow over the weekend. The bears and I are going to hunker down and read ourselves warm.

    • February 11, 2016 2:13 pm

      You and the bears have a good plan. I’ve had to go back to work in the snow and ice, with highs in the teens (Fahrenheit). My cats go out for a minute and then dash back in and meow at me, saying I made a mistake, that I didn’t let them out the door into summer.

  2. Rohan Maitzen permalink
    February 10, 2016 3:15 pm

    I love that poem: “If I’m not happy it must be my own fault” – that’s spring for you! We are mid-winter now, I think. We may have cold and snow into April, but by then you can count on it clearing up pretty soon after falling, whereas what we get now is with us for quite a while. What I find soul-crushing is how ugly the snow is here: it doesn’t take long, in an old city, for the pristine white to turn to gritty miserable grey and brown heaps, and with the trees bare and the flat landscape, there’s little relief for the eye and heart. I watch real estate TV set in Vancouver just to drink in the views!

    • February 11, 2016 2:16 pm

      The ugly snow is pretty soul-crushing. I went around photographing gray and black piles of it last winter, intending to send the photos to my west coast (Bay Area) friend ReadersGuide who kept saying how much she likes snow, but then I didn’t do it.
      In addition to your real estate TV viewing, I recommend the movie Body Heat, which I usually watch sometime in February.

  3. February 11, 2016 1:53 pm

    So glad Eleanor is better! It’s amazing what a short break from winter can do, isn’t it? We have two more months of winter here. My husband and I have plans to visit the local conservatory this weekend for some color, warmth and humidity

    • February 11, 2016 2:19 pm

      That’s a really good idea, the conservatory. We do that sometimes in February, in Columbus at the Franklin Park Conservatory.
      And yes, we’re of course quite relieved that Eleanor is better. She is still peeved that other humans get a tattoo with no trouble whereas hers cost her a trip to urgent care, lots of pills and pads, and then four days in the hospital followed by more pills.

  4. February 13, 2016 8:58 am

    Once we hit March, I start thinking spring, but March is really still winter here in Massachusetts. We’re in a deep freeze right now, but it won’t last forever, and before long we’ll be looking for the snowdrops and crocuses out in the yard, too!

    • February 13, 2016 9:13 am

      We’re in a deep freeze right now too–3 degrees fahrenheit last night. I take some satisfaction in that the people who say winter won’t “kill all the bugs” can’t say that it hasn’t gotten cold enough.

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