from All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews


It was spring break up time when the ice on the river begins to thaw and crack and large frozen slabs grind and scrape against each other and make a horrible screaming noise as they are dragged downstream by the current. Spring does not come easy to this city. p 49

Oh, Spring does not come easy here, it is hard won. Spring round these parts is earned. I feel like my neighbors and friends all walk around with imaginary merit badges on their sleeves. This one is for the week-long illness. This one is for getting up and going to work even though the hours of daylight were almost non-existent. This one is for driving home on treacherous roads because the snow squall suddenly appeared while we were in the grocery store. This one is for keeping my kids occupied in the less than zero temperatures, day after day after day.

But today. Oh today…The sun was shining, the icicles were melting and when I pointed my camera at that electric blue sky, I saw buds on the trees. Glory Glory Hallelujah. It feels as if we’ve finally reached some impossible moutaintop destination.

I have noticed that there is an incremental thawing taking place in me too. For the first time in months I ran from the bookstore to the post office without my coat on. And the chatter in line was about mud season and what the thaw would be like. Would it happen all at once, would there be flooding? Who can say? In fact given that tomorrow is March 1 there is surely more snow in our future. But hearing neighbors chatter puts me in a mind of birds on a line. They have been twittering in the morning, they are much more active and the world around us is slowly beginning to waken from its frozen state.

Today is a day that makes those of us in New England a little hopeful. More trusting and less wary. The sun is stronger and December feels like it was another lifetime ago. Though truthfully the last of the Christmas presents just went out, so I feel like we can plant both feet firmly in this new year.

It will be awhile before the snow goes for good and the flower buds begin to fight there way through the earth. But maybe we can start shedding layers and stop wearing hats indoors and not be quite so bundled when heading off to sleep.

It truly is a time of transition. My heart wants to move on, to skip in the sunshine, to say au revoir to brutal, life-threatening weather. But the snow can be still be breathtaking, a silver-haired woman wearing diamonds who captivates and captures your attention. I hesitate to say goodbye to hot chocolate, woolen elbow-patched sweaters, and the softness of the flakes falling outside. Right now, I know snow. I know how to navigate in this world and there is a safety in the familiar and being bundled against the elements. Spring beckons us forward to a yet unknown world. One full of exposed lawns, ungloved hands and the promise of sun.

And colors, so many colors. I’ve almost forgotten how to drink them all in; how to step outside and lose myself in that beauty.

But first the thaw, then the mud and we can move on from there. I know it’s coming. Change—as always— is inevitable. And as predictable as the seasons are in regards to change, they still surprise me. As with most everything, I have to fight and kick and rail against something I know I want just because it’s different and as yet unknown. (I don’t believe I myself, make a horrible screaming noise. I try to show some restraint.) But there is still time to live in both worlds, to exist in the in-between and gradually transition from one season to the other. Today I got a glimpse of what awaits us. Each little drip from the icicle sounded like: soon, soon, soon.

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