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.
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).
People 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:
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.
Briefly, 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?