Winter’s Great Weight Becomes Spring’s Great Wait 

How do Minnesotans know spring has arrived?

The calendar says there’s more daylight than darkness. That’s about it, except maybe the first barge passing through Lake Pepin. Everyone has already gone through the seed catalogs and mostly decided on what the year’s plantings will be. But that doesn’t mean it is truly spring yet.

Meteorological spring started March 1. It’s kind of like Groundhog Day except that on the first day of March we’re watching for any clue that we’ll have a warm spring. Will it be “in like a lamb, out like a lion” or vice versa? Well, this year March seemed cold all the way through. Once the calendar says spring has officially arrived, we know we need to still expect about six more weeks of cold and snow. For most of us, and kids especially, it’s The Great Wait.

References to March always seem to be depicted by a coatless kid flying a kite. That was not created by anyone living around here. Even as a kid, I learned not to believe that the first day of spring meant we could put the sleds away and hang up our coats. I do feel sorry for the people down south enduring tornados but, man, they’re walking around all the damage in shorts and t-shirts – and sweating. Some say the devastating weather is caused by global warming. I’d welcome some of that warming here without the devastation.

And April is the cruelest month, right? Just because T.S. Eliot said so, I guess. Well, April certainly can be cruel in these parts. April showers bring May flowers but we get cold rain, which can be worse than snow. We learned that as kids at school. If you were dumb enough play in the rain and jump in puddles, you might, for the rest of that day, be wearing an outfit from the lost and found box such as a tight T-shirt, oversized gym shorts, flowered socks and a pair of holey tennis shoes. You might also have to take a note home to your parents, who warned you to keep wearing your rubber buckle boots.

It’s risky to drain the gas out of our snowblowers this early. There could always be one more snowfall dumped on us. And spring snowstorms can be wet and heavy. Maybe for next winter I’ll buy an electric snowblower. So, until the ground dries up, we can only look outside at the work to be done and make lists.

It doesn’t help that, as we wait for warm weather, we continue to endure the relentless onslaught of events that most of us would expect to only read about in history books or science fiction. The culprits include the pandemic, political mayhem, climate change, and the potential for both civil war and world war. And these events are having a profound effect on our lives, causing other problems such as inflation and product shortages.

All of this happening at the same time is definitely going to get us into future history books. I wonder what they’ll call our generation. We certainly won’t match The Greatest Generation. Maybe we’ll be remembered as The Grayest Generation since there are so many seniors now. Right, Boomer?

There isn’t much we can directly do about any of this other than to be more conservative about what we buy and how we use it. How many of us have even returned to our pre-pandemic social lives? And, who knows what the next COVID variant will do? We’ll find out soon enough because it’s already started its march across the country. Let’s hope its effect on us is minimal.

Now, the flip side of all this is that The Great Wait provides us with the opportunity to complete those winter projects we have on our lists. You know, things like rearranging a couple rooms and decluttering the closets so that just before you can open windows again, you can do a deep clean. No, huh? OK, but remember, you won’t want want do these tasks once the weather really gets nice.

There is another sign of spring that I forgot to mention. Bugs. You know the story. They come into your homes in the fall – Japanese beetles, crickets, spiders and other bugs. Then some of them reappear in spring.

We’re in the midst of a battle with boxelder bugs. They seem to be everywhere, including my coffee. I’ve vacuumed up dozens of them. I’ve seen them in other buildings. The University of Minnesota says they hide in walls and attics. Then, when spring warmth arrives, they move to the home’s living areas, especially to windows and sunny areas.

They are actually trying to move outdoors but are trapped inside. Dumping the vacuumed bugs outdoors probably ensures their demise because it’s still too cold for them. At least they don’t reproduce in homes.

So, this time of year we just hang on with the knowledge that this too shall pass and it’s always darkest before dawn. The good news is that dawn is arriving a bit earlier each day. With any luck, if the weather forecast can be trusted, we might be starting a warming trend by the time you read this.

But don’t get too excited. The Great Wait doesn’t officially end until the first crop of dandelions.

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