Spring in the upper Midwest is a roller coaster ride – sun and warmth one day followed by cold winds and snow the next. We have our ups and downs. But we also know that spring, and eventually summer, will prevail. Until then we surround ourselves with the hopes and colors of springtime.
I bought some tulips at the store recently to help brighten the day. Their pale colors were lovely and they reminded me of the delicateness of spring with a whisper of pale pink throughout the petals. The blooms were tight when I first brought them home, but they slowly opened up. As they got larger their weight caused them to bend forward, sometimes falling one against another. The lightness and support of these two tulips struck me as the definition of softness.
We’ve enjoyed days of blue sky and sunshine. Our temperatures have soared into the 40s and 50s and we were so very optimistic for spring. Even the grass was showing, and snow was only found in small mounds on protected north sides.
And then it snowed yesterday. Spring was delayed another time. Today I found these trees standing tall on a hill in our monotone winter landscape, their branches still bare but triumphant. They know that spring will come. The grass beneath their trunks will be green again. The sky above their outstretched arms will be a brilliant shade of blue. And their branches will burst out with a full coverage of green leaves. Not today, but soon.
With a lightness in my step and a smile on my face, I stepped out into 48 degrees and sunshine yesterday afternoon for a walk. The sun was warm and it seemed that everyone was outside taking advantage of the lovely weather. My thoughts turned to spring and the hope of flowers and blooming trees. Tulips seem to be one of those “perfect” symbols of springtime, turning their blooms up towards the sun.
This morning I woke up to snow. Sometimes it was coming down quite heavily. My brightness of yesterday and hope for spring was certainly dimmed. But today is still February, and this snow will probably repeat again before the season turns all the way to spring. I shoveled the heavy wet snow, turned my face to the sun that had broken through the clouds, and tried to imagine the green grass and the blooming trees and tulips.
February seems to mark the coldest temperatures of our winter, and that has certainly been true for this year. We are lucky to get above zero during the day, and our nighttime cold extends into the teens and twenties below zero. This is the belly of winter – the depths of winter – the take-your-breath-away time of winter. The sun casts long shadows over a landscape covered in snow. The blue sky is lovely but the wind howls and picks up any fresh snow, twirling it in the air and repositioning it with abandon. It’s a time to appreciate basic comforts like warm boots and clothes, furnaces and heat, and the knowledge that in a few months we will crawl out of this belly and eventually into spring.
Our winter landscape has fluctuated as much as the temperatures have been up and down. Each weekend we get a freshening of snow and then we get a bit of a warm up that creates some thawing and ice, and then it’s followed by the same routine the next weekend. And the forecast is much the same for this weekend. But this roller coaster ride seems to be keeping most people happy – the ones that love the snow and the ones that prefer the warmer temperatures. The fresh snow keeps our scenery fresh and lovely, and gives me a renewed appreciation for winter.