We had a 60-degree day last week, which was an abnormally warm day for March. So abnormal that piles of snow still loitered in parking lots and front yards while people walked their dogs without coats on.
There is a park not far from my office, and during the summer, I eat my lunch on a bench and then walk around the ball diamond for exercise. Since it seemed so warm, I drove to the park on my lunch, only the air was too cold to sit outside and my walking path was still blocked with residual snow.
I never used to like springtime. I prefer fall. I never feel more alive than when everything around me is dying. The voices of the world disappear and all I can hear is my own.
Springtime, to me, was just more winter–dark and gloomy and cold. There wasn’t any grand transition there.
It was T.S. Eliot who wrote “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land.” The lilacs are sleeping, Mother Earth, and so are we. Why must you disturb us? No one likes to be woken up before the sun comes out.
I have since been converted. I now stand with the rest of the Michiganders and welcome springtime with open arms. The winters are harsh and long, and they only seem to be getting harsher and longer as the years go by. So when it gets above freezing, we break out the flip-flops and go play outside.
Later on that warm day, I found myself near my college alma mater with a few minutes to spare, so I turned in the main drive and drove through the campus. I passed the soccer fields. The snow on the faux turf had been scraped to the side so the bright green “grass” was enclosed by an ice wall. Students in shorts kicked the ball to and fro.
I went by the golf course. The women’s team was out on the driving range in skirts, their uncovered legs disappearing behind snow banks, their golf balls forever lost among the leftover white. Through my rolled-down car window, I laughed out loud at the absurdity.
I realized that Michiganders aren’t like T.S. Eliot’s lilacs at all. We aren’t annoyed that we’ve been awakened from our hibernation. We embrace it. We don’t care that the time is not right–the calendar says it is yet winter–but we act as though it is the middle of July. We stand on the dead land as conscious and breathing beings. We want it to be summer, dammit, so we make it so.
As I sat in my car, the sun’s warmth tanning my left arm, and the dark shade cooling my face, I appreciated the transition that I was forcing on nature. The earth may not be ready to wake up, but I am.