I let our dogs out the front door and watched as they tackled each other, rolling around in the mud and grass. I laughed out loud, it was refreshing to see their winter malaise replaced with spring-time exuberance. I turned around and watched as my two daughters mirrored the dogs, unknowingly. They rolled around in the living room laughing and squealing, bursting with energy that can only be brought on by longer days and warmer air.
A couple of weeks ago, as I pulled my boots on and wrestled with the toddler and her own boots, I wondered aloud why it was that I live here. We have cold for months. Even on sunny days, the air stays frigid. The landscape dies and turns 50 shades of brown (and grey ...). Growing food becomes nearly impossible, checking the mail requires protective gear and cold weather warnings are issued weekly.
Who in their right mind would stay here?
I have the same thought every February. This winter was exceptionally hard for me. I struggled. No, I STRUGGLED. There were heartaches and darkness. Days that I didn't want to climb out of bed, let alone face another freezing cold day outnumbered the good. The lack of snow kept the remnants of fall's death clear and in sight, a constant reminder of what was.
Near the end of February, beginning of March, something shifted. The dogs got more playful. My girls more rambunctious. The days were a smidgen longer and my outlook a tad bit rosier. I awoke to a symphony of birds greeting me instead of winter's frozen silence. The faint smell of skunk wafted through the air and nightly baths became necessary to get the dirt off.
Then, it happened. The temperatures soared. I met up with a friend and, wearing our babies while they napped without shoes, we walked. We walked through the mud and in the sunshine. We chatted and laughed and sweat out the dark winter. We breathed in the freshness and hope that spring brings. After three miles of walking my mind felt clearer than it had in months.
As I laid down in bed last night I thought about my day and the days leading up to it. Had today really been that special? There are many days during spring and summer that I walk with friends. We have months of warm temperatures here so that wasn't new. What was it about today that was so transformative?
The answer was simple. This winter. The cold, starkness of this past winter made today amazing. The death, darkness, and decomposition of the coldest months of the year made the return of the sun and life that much more special. Loss sweetens gain. Death sweetens life. Cold sweetens warmth.
Yesterday my baby got to wiggle her bare toes in the sun and nap on my back. My big girl got to play with friends at the playground and splash in mud and water without freezing. I got to breath and appreciate the struggles of the last few months. I am alive, the sun is shining, and my children are healthy and oh so very happy. I get to watch my dogs tumble and roll on my lawn and I have friends who will chat and walk and soak up the early spring sun with me. I appreciate these things, big and small, and am grateful for the darkness and the balance it brings. I let that darkness tip the scales this past winter but the warmth of the sun has reminded me to seek balance. It taught me that for every shattered heart there is love. For every crash and burn, a moment of grace.
I know it is early for spring here in our corner of the universe. This early glimpse of what will be is a ray of light. In the balance of life, it seems like spring has sprung right on time for me. The calendar says March but the signs of spring are all around me. Sorry, calendar, I am going to listen to my dogs and children on this one. Mud doesn't lie.
Michelle is a writer, wife and mother of two small girls. She has a penchant for coffee and rarely turns down cookies. She is the authority on nothing and may just be the most outgoing shy person you will ever meet. Her family is convinced she is a super hero but most days she feels more like the bumbling sidekick. Her writing can be seen on UrbanMommies, Mamalode, BLUNTmoms, in the HerStories anthology, Mother Through The Darkness, and on her blog at www.JuiceboxConfession.com All love letters can be sent to JuiceboxConfession@gmail.com