Jessie Veeder, Published March 15 2014
Coming Home: Winter blues washed away by spring melt
The creek that cuts through the ranch has turned into a river. The stock dam in front of our house is overflowing, making hundreds of little streams that bend and bubble past my door.
I step outside to the sounds of rapids and I have oceanfront property.
I step outside and I roll up my sleeves. The sun is warm today.
This has been the longest winter of my life. The cold cut into me, bitter and unyielding. It stuck in my bones. The wind was relentless, the days too short on sunshine. It was too cold to snow and clean things up. Too cold to walk to the top of the hill and catch a sunset or two.
Too cold, some days, to feel grateful for this place.
So I wrapped up under the roof of this house and felt like I might lose it – my belief in the promise of spring and motivation to keep walking against that wind.
Yes, there were real moments there, between the long cold months of November and February, that my sanity was replaced with cabin fever.
The winter blues.
Why do we live in a place that can be so cruel to us?
And how do we forget, under the soft sky of summer, that we pay a penance for those three months of sunshine and growing things?
How do we forget what forty-two below feels like when we wipe sweat and dust from our faces and cuss at the heat?
How do we forget how brown our skin can turn? How do we forget how cold our toes can get?
And how can I make myself remember the smell of plum blossoms when my wool socks and long underwear do nothing to protect me from the longest season.
Now I know I’m not alone here. There are plenty of us in the great white north who lost faith in spring and her ability to find us this year.
We put the coffee on and turned the TV to the weather channel, then counted our leftover change to see if there was enough for a trip to Hawaii.
Ridiculous. Hard. Brutal. The worst.
These were the words people used to describe the season. And if you asked the horses down there in the trees, if they could speak, they would find a better way to describe what it was like to endure it out there under nothing but a thicker coat.
And in another month or so they’ll start to shed it. That’s how hopeful and trusting things like horses can be.
But it turns out people, we’re even more eager. We lose our coats as soon as the weatherman promises us 40 degrees (even though we say under our breath, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”)
We sit out on the deck with the paper and a cup of coffee.
We take long walks in short-sleeve shirts.
We start our gardens on windowsills.
We find a dry spot on the top of a hill, sit down and close our eyes.
Yesterday I saw a man driving a convertible with the top down.
It was 50 degrees.
Give us a few months and we’ll tell you that 50 degrees is bit chilly, because, like I said, we forget. But today, it’s 100 degrees warmer than it was a few weeks ago, so our kids don’t need to wear jackets while swimming in the giant lakes that appeared on our back lawns overnight.
We can take the sweaters off the dogs now.
Because cold snow turns to water and that water turns to warm summer rain and we will remember it when we smell it rolling in over the horizon in dark threatening clouds and lightning after a sweltering July day.
We will remember it when we feel it soak in our brown skin.
And we will forget this long, cold winter and know nothing but the new wide awake summer, the season that comes home each year, whether we believe it or not.
Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. Readers can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.