Monday, March 12, 2007

Signs of Spring

Way far up north where I grew up, the saying 'April showers bring May flowers' just struck me as so much nonsense: the reality was that April snowstorms brought ... May snowstorms. This was a philosophy appropriate only to TV-land: you know, the place where sitcom denizens frolicked in thick soapflake snow, their jackets open and their scarves trailing undone. Nonsense. As a child, it seemed to me that winter was fierce, and lasted nearly forever: April showers would have been an unheard-of break in the weather.

Spring in Northern Ontario is breathtaking and fleeting. All at once the roads are bare, the sun is high in the sky at dinner time, and all you can hear is the whoosh of air across your un-hatted head, the gurgle-gurgle of rapidly melting snowbanks pouring into the storm drains, the sudden mirthful chirping of birds. The air is crisp with the mingled and paradoxically mixed scents of dry dust from the roads, the clean wetness of shrinking snowbands--it's a marvel to smell anything at all, nostrils grown accustomed to harsh winter temperatures and seeking nothing more than not freezing with every inhalation. Scent itself--the world unfrozen!--is a minor miracle in a northern spring. I remember all this so clearly: that first warm-ish day, daring to skip the puddles on yard and sidewal, making my way onto the dry road in shoes--shoes!--to jump rope. This was heaven indeed! Not wet, not frozen, in shoes, skipping rope. Brilliant sunshine. The breeze might chill, but the sun is warm on your face. If you close your eyes, you can remember summer, remember what it is like to be outside, warm.

I can't get used to these Southern Ontario springtimes: how lucky we are to have warmth and light so soon! And so this very weekend winter seemed to start to melt itself away in front of me.

It's amazing what the body remembers, how easy it is to slip from 34 years old, married, with a baby and a career and a mortgage, to 10 years old, with a new pair of rainbow nylon kangaroo sneakers, a red k-way jacket, and a premium skipping rope--the heavy rope, the striped plastic kind with real handles--just wanting to be outside again. I made that slip this weekend, so suddenly did the warm weather appear from nowhere as I ran out to get a coffee in a hurry on Sunday morning, so suddenly noticing the melting snow, so surprised to feel that maybe, maybe this winter wouldn't last forever. Maybe things will grow, the light will come back. At once 34 and 10, caught between now and all those springs that came before, I just let the sun warm my face, let myself smell the dirt, hear the running water. All my selves, from all my springs, warming our faces, being in the eternal moment of changing seasons, before returning to my now, to being in the moment that is me now: chores to do, grading beckoning, a husband to love and a baby to grow. Grateful.

Soon.

10 comments:

Jenifer G. said...

You are so right, your step becomes lighter on those first few warm days. We were in Niagara Falls this weekend with the girls and the nice sunny day to walk around was so nice. It was still winter with our coats and hats, but the sun warmed our faces and made such a nice bright weekend.

Now we just need more of it!

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Lovely post.

I love the smell of dirt, too.

NotSoSage said...

Wow. This was so powerful that it brought me back and a lump swelled in my throat.

Ah, the k-way jacket. Where are they now?

cinnamon gurl said...

Wow. Beautiful imagery aside, this post kind of makes me laugh because I was just grumping this weekend about how long it's taking to melt the icy sidewalks and get rid of those very annoying snowbanks that the stroller stalls over. And how we have nearly 12 hours of daylight (I think) and are still hovering around zero, when Johannesburg sits at a mild 20-ish when it has 12 hours of daylight.

Thanks for making me see the bright side.

Bloor West Mama said...

I love spring...it just puts a smile on my face.

I just can't wait for the fresh spring air...

Mad Hatter said...

We spent the better part of the last two days jumping in mud puddles. Wait until next Spring, Mimi. It will hold a whole other magic entirely.

BTW, this is a lovely bit of memory writing. The K-Way was one of only a few smart fads.

Beck said...

Beautiful post! It's still winter here, of course. We'll get spring sometime in late April, although the worst frostbite I ever had was on a May 1st snowstorm. STupid weather.

crazymumma said...

beautiful post. And photo.

soon indeed.

cinnamon gurl said...

ps... you forgot the dog poo that emerges as the snow recedes... Just call me Spring Scrooge...

Mimi said...

Oh CG! That is my one major complaint, especially about spring in my backwards home town, where everyone lets their dogs literally sh*t at will and at large. Poop, poop, everywhere, months and months of it reappearing in warm sunshine. Gooey AND smelly. Makes me Scroogy too ;-)