Wednesday, September 25, 2013

If You Don't like the Weather....(written May 2013)

The seasons in Wisconsin have given all creatures of this fair state a run for their money this past winter.  We had record-breaking snowfall, resulting in an end to the drought we've experienced in the past couple of years.  It snowed into April, which is the cruelest month anyway.  I read a Vonnegut short story some time ago, where he wrote that "April...drove everyone crazy by not being quite spring."  It occurs to me that this past April has been less like what I'd prefer to call spring at pretty much any latitude.  Goddamn!

The first year I lived here, it snowed in mid-May.  In fact, my husband and I had just returned about ten days earlier from our honeymoon in New Orleans.  I can recall exclaiming, when we got home, that "Spring came while we were gone!"  Shortly thereafter, cherry and apple tree branches (not to mention power lines) were breaking under the weight of a heavy, wet spring snow.  It felt like I'd stumbled onto the end of the world.  My father-in-law, the author of a large vegetable garden each spring and summer, sensibly starts his tomatoes indoors under a grow-light, and NEVER puts a plant in the ground till after May 15.  A wise man, indeed.

This year, the first really big storm happened just a few days before Christmas, on a Thursday.  I was spared the terror of driving to work in that mess because I'd arranged to take the day off; I was actually supposed to pick up my older daughter from college in Milwaukee.  Obviously that didn't happen.  A co-worker of my husband's got stranded in Milwaukee and graciously agreed to bring our child home the following day.  Shortly thereafter, I became ill and spent most of Christmas week in the house.  I remember that the Saturday after Christmas, my husband was bringing me home from the hospital while fat flakes of snow drifted down from the night sky.  Even in my weakened state, I could appreciate its beauty, but given the amount of snow we'd already had, it was pretty much overkill.

A friend visited us from Australia just after the turn of the year, and I daresay between Green Bay and Banff, Canada, she got her lifetime fill of snow.  And it was cold here, in a way it hasn't been in several years.  Between December and February, our almost-new snowblower got the workout it missed last winter.  However, the snow decided to refresh itself repeatedly in March as well, to the point that on the first calendar day of spring, I took a photo of a mini-mountain in our parking lot at work.  Seriously, where else can you put it all, once you've started piling it up?  We used to have a "handicapped parking" sign on the far end of the parking lot.  Yeah, not any more, folks.

Lest we forget, April was also a freezing mess.  I have another picture, this one of a small bush outside our office totally sheathed in ice.  (I am still grateful that it was only smaller objects that received that coating.  I've lived through ice storms a few times, and they are, surprisingly, no fun.)  Oddly, though, as if a cosmic switch had been thrown, at a certain point, the grass obediently began to green up without the usual benefit of warmer air and sunlight.  So far as I can tell, the trees are lagging behind somewhat; but already I see patches of opportunistic dandelions.  And my neighbors have begun to reappear as well.  Spring is normally when we notice that some folks might have moved--or not.  Kids, runners, the Jewish Chabad community down the street: all have been out on the few nice days, playing, doing laps, raking, fertilizing, and whatever it is that people who have the time do for their lawns.  Crazy.  But we love it, and long for it all the long winter.

They seem to get longer every year.

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