Spring in Minnesota

It’s spring in Minnesota! Being an elder in North Country means that learning to bend with the challenges of life is an art we’ve come closer to mastering. We’ve had plenty of experience now. We’ve have more than enough opportunities here as our four seasons come and go, usually erratically and haltingly before they settle in. Take spring.


Spring largely whimpers its way into the North Country. With an occasional gift that plays with our hopes. Like the clear, sunny skies and 76 degree temperature that showed up on Easter Sunday! And the 56 degree high that showed up the next day – with a promising overnight of 38. (Yay! Above freezing anyway…)


We have learned to navigate the whiplash of seasonal change and we’re ever so grateful for the strength of character and the physical strength that winter gives us as preparation. But so often, even the illusion that we are prepared plays havoc with our intrepid spirit of hope that always lingers close by. We do hope that spring this year will be different. That it will unequivocally declare itself “arrived.” Even though we know good and well that hope will always be dashed before true spring finally breaks out in bright, bushy blossoms and shocking green leaves and the promise of deliciously healing temperatures – we hope.


The young, as young people do, have long since defiantly brought out their shorts and flip-flops and tank tops and dared the weather to be cold. Cold is relative. Anything above freezing is to be set free! GO with it, dude! Mind the thawing snow banks…


As for the rest of us…the several duties of spring can be done slowly and even deliberately; there is plenty of time. You do not put away winter things too soon, for you will need them one or two more times. Guaranteed. Spring whimpering and all…


I’m an apartment dweller, so the transition is less onerous than it is for property owners. No snow blowing or plowing or shoveling when the inevitable last snow laughingly accumulates. And being mostly retired, I rarely have to worry about having to go out in slippery, thick, heavy, sloppy wet roads and ruts.


Flexibility is one of the happier graces in winter.

It is an imperative in these tauntingly whimpering springs.


There are still things to be done indoors, though. Lots of putting away and getting stuff out. Reorganizing. So last week, I laundered the flannel nightgowns that have kept me warm and cozy since November and put them in the bottom drawer of my dresser where I keep some of the off-season clothes. And my lightweight stuff came to the upper drawers. Simple. I’ve loved snuggling up under my extra roomy L. L. Bean nightgowns and warm fuzzy slippers. It feels like a sacrifice to let go of them for a while. I know, I have a strange sense of sacrifice.


The big, warm, puffy down comforter is back in my closet, wrapped securely so it won’t suddenly break free of its constraints and puff its way out of the closet in the middle of the night. It warmed me during the Polar Vortex in January and every other bone-chilling night this past winter. To wrap up in it was to be sheltered with love and care. To feel less vulnerable. Safe. I shall miss it.


The extra warm boiled wool Norwegian mittens and my big fleece cap and the sleeping bag – all in case I went off the road somewhere – are out of my van and packed away. The earmuffs for when it was “warmer;” the warmest scarves “just in case;” and the extra warm boots are all packed away, too. The aging van feels delightfully free and airy, and even a bit younger perhaps.


Another spring is spreading its wings. My 78th spring. I finally washed the winter off of my little table and chairs on my balcony and still await warmth enough to sit out there and read – and people watch – and watch the slow march of spring and summer – and the changes that will come creeping in with autumn.


The changes are so good for our spirits – the ebb and flow of ease and endurance. They strengthen us.


Oh. Yes. There was that last snow. Winter dies a slow death here. The last gasp that emptied out the winter heavens above us arrived April 27th, after that lovely Easter warmth when we thought we were scot-free. Two inches here, rather than the 4-8″ that had been predicted only a day earlier. Big, huge flakes lazily falling, undisturbed by the winds of earlier snowstorms, nestled on the green grass for several hours. By nightfall, there were just a few glistening white patches left and the deep, bright green reigned supreme again. The fact that we beat the old record from 1996-97 was the Great Reward for our endurance and spunk. We survived! We even thrived! Where I live, it’s Minnesotans, proud and unbowed.


Ahhh, you know, it’s wonderfully good to live here. It is grace when you just bend a bit with the changes that arrive. And remember that change is opportunity. Even in elderhood. Especially in elderhood! And that grace always arrives in its time and place. So we pay attention…And I’m very okay with that.