Winter is melting. It’s like a strong, galloping horse that’s finally been broken.
I spent yesterday morning outside with girlfriends and kids at the local skate park of all places. We’re all so starved for warmth, the Mamas congregated on the heat-absorbent concrete, lounging and eating our kids’ snacks like we were at the beach. The kids—who’ve been meeting up every Thursday since they were drooling infants—spent an hour trying to claw a “big nail” (survey stake) out of the ground with their bare hands. I think they were thrilled just to be touching dirt.
Even though March is typically one of the wetter months here in the San Juan Mountains, suddenly, the moisture seems so useful, so practical. You can watch it—like a sped-up movie—as it falls, collects and melts, feeding the chives that are spearing up from the mud like caricatures of garden vegetables. Except it’s not a sped-up movie, and those chives are real food!
We even dabbled in bike-riding this week. It was just a stunt as first, just Col tracking up the gluey mud bog in our yard. And suddenly he was rolling down our driveway, then cruising down our street. Before anyone could think twice, I popped Rose in the backpack and we were off. We didn’t even have mittens. And even the snowsuits the kids were wearing that day were less survival-ration and more protection in the event of puddle stomping.
We ventured farther from our house on foot than we had in months and it felt a little Lewis and Clark-like, intrepidly fording the newly-thawed streets, pushing it one more wild block, hoping we’d make it home before having to bivouac under a big spruce tree and cook up a neighborhood dog.
(You did read Undaunted Courage, right? The story of Lewis and Clark’s journey West? Lots of dog-eating).
And even with the robins singing and the snowmelt trickling, it still felt sort of strange and awkward, like we were auditioning for a part in the movie called spring. But the sight of Col, peddling down a sidewalk, waking up dormant muscles with each revolution of his snow-booted feet, was like the universe whispering in my ear (perhaps with a Jamaican accent) “every little thing’s gonna be alright.”
I didn’t even get impatient when Col prowled around the shelter of a spruce tree picking up “spruce pine cones” declaring “this one looks like a jellybean! This one’s an arrowhead! This one’s a pinto bean. Look at this one Mama! Does it look like a banana? This one’s…” Meanwhile Rosie was testing out rhymes. “Does helmet rhyme with babelmet? Does crayon rhyme with bram? Does shoe rhyme with school?” After a couple minutes of my ears being battered by exuberant children on both sides I just started declaring “right!” at regular intervals. Sometimes I think I need a pre-recorded tape of myself doling out cheery responses. It would sound a little like this: “Great honey!” Pause. “Nice!” Pause. “Wow!” Pause. “Look at that!” This morning Col busted me exclaiming over his lego rocket race car helicopter while I was making coffee. “You have to look Mama.”
Of course there will be another stretch of days where we huddle inside and peer out the window watching the snow take back all the sun’s hard work. I still crunch through several feet of it on my way to and from the chicken coop every day. But March snow seems so benign, like catching a glimpse of that chemistry teacher you hated, on the last day of school. Even a casual boot stomp can press out all the meanness in a clump of snow.
What’s on your pre-recorded tape? (I have another one that goes: “Col, please stop! Whoa! Don’t touch! Hey, put that down! Don’t throw an antler at your sister!”)
Has spring come to your neck of the woods? Tell me how! And may your weekend be full of cheery responses.