They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Apparently this is true. And apparently this can apply not only to a fondness for an absent person, but for an absent season.
I know what you’re thinking. “Hell has frozen over. Terri is missing winter.”
I never thought I’d see the day either, but here it is. Technically, it is winter here in Minnesota, but it’s not really winter. Winter in Minnesota means snow, and lots of it. In winter, the driveway is supposed to look like a white tunnel leading to the garage. In winter, we fight over who has to spend those extra few minutes outside getting the mail and racing for the warmth of the house. It’s supposed to be cold out there. We’re supposed to have to bundle up in jackets and scarves, mittens and hats and boots. Instead, I see people outdoors in hooded sweatshirts, in flip-flops, and even in shorts. In February. In Minnesota. Something is wrong with this picture.
We Minnesotans aren’t sure what to do with ourselves when winter is supposed to be here but then fails to show up. We pride ourselves on our ability to endure the harsh cold and mountains of snow. And we complain about it! It’s what we do! We laugh about those states that shut down after half an inch of snow falls because they don’t have snow plows or salt to melt the ice on their roads and they don’t know how to drive on ice and snow. We puff up our chests and boast about how we still go to work and school even after several feet of snow have covered the ground.
We Minnesotans have been deprived of several months of complaining and boasting and we are not happy about it! Well, some of us aren’t happy about it. I can’t speak for those people who were still golfing last week. In February. In Minnesota.
The rest of us? We have conversations that go something like this.
Can you believe how warm it’s been?
I know, right?
And then we walk away, shrugging our shoulders because we don’t know where the conversation goes from there.
Sometimes a person might add:
This can’t last. We can’t be that lucky.
And that person would be right. And when winter finally decides to show up, in February, in Minnesota it doesn’t quite work the same. When a winter storm finally arrives after unseasonably warm weather, it shows up in the form of rain that lasts all night long, freezing to everything it strikes.
The frame for the canopy on my deck, for instance:
And by morning, when the snow is falling on top of all that ice, it begins to look like this.
The weight of the ice and snow is too much for the big pine tree in the back yard and its branches droop to the ground.
Laying in bed at night, there’s the reassuring sound of snow plows scraping their blades over the streets. Waking up in the morning, the sound of rain … or is it sleet … or snow … pelting against the house lulls me back to sleep until the alarm goes off again and it’s time to get up. When I go to leave for work, I have to “gun it” out of the driveway in order to break through the crusty barrier that the plows have left there. One of the boys will clean that mess up later. I have to leave early for work because it’s going to be a long slow drive. The streets are rutted with ice and slush and snow. Traffic crawls down the freeway. Cars that have spun out rest on the shoulder of the road. The flashing lights of the Highway Helper truck alert drivers to vehicles that are stuck. It takes three times as long to get where you’re going as it normally does.
And when I finally make it to the office? When my coworkers finally make it to the office? We compare notes. “How bad was it in your neighborhood? How was your drive? How many accidents did you see? Why do people drive like it’s the first time they’ve ever seen snow when this happens every year?”
And we are happy. Winter feels like winter again and we can breathe easy now.
And tomorrow? We’ll go back to counting the days until spring and longing for warmth and sunshine and green grass. Because right now it’s winter. In February. In Minnesota. And we are sick of it!