Saturday, April 16, 2016

Why do I live in Wisconsin?

Good afternoon!

Wow!  Where did March and half of April go?

I realized I've been MIA from this blog now since the Oscars.  Maybe it's my shock that "Spotlight" took best picture instead of "The Revenant."  I didn't feel either one was best, so whatever, but still I was surprised. Not enough to neglect my blog, however.

It's finally Spring here in America's Dairy land. After a couple brief false starts, we've finally gotten a weather weekend that's amazing.  I was reminded how precious and surprising days like these are around here this morning at my favorite coffee shop. Hubby and I walked down and the young man behind the counter started up a conversation with us about how amazing the weather was today.  He is from Oregon, and the winters here are far harsher, more uncomfortable than they would be up in the Pacific Northwest.  

Hubby and I continued the conversation while we sipped coffee at a table on the sidewalk. He'd recently spent the week with a coworker who lives in Houston, Texas.  Recently Houston has had a spate of baseball and grapefruit sized hail. We marveled at some of the pictures Hubby had gotten from other insurance adjusters of the damage to property and cars.

This got me to thinking:  Why do I live in Wisconsin?

Out of state people ask this of Upper Midwesterners all the time.  Minnesota, Iowa, the northern part of Illinois, the Dakotas, what on earth possesses us to live here where the winters are no joke six months long and the summers are as hot and humid and bug infested as anything Florida could offer up?

The last couple days have answered that question.  There are brief, shiny moments here in the northern parts of America's Heartland that are so beautiful and fleeting and precious...if you blink, you'll miss it and then you'll have to wait until next year.  

Spring is a very short season and sporadic. You can't point to a span of time on the calendar and say, "This is Spring." More likely, you'll find a day when the sun is shining, there's a lovely breeze and everything smells alive. Tiny little flowers of blue and yellow pop up out of grass that's so green it makes your eyes water.  All the colors are bright, as if trying to beat back the thought of so many days of dark, dreary, cold rain.  These spring days are rare, and a gift, and breathtaking.  People put shorts on and walk around outside even though it's probably only 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) because it's 50 degrees more than it was for the last five months and it feels so good.

The snow is gone, except for those black mountains of filthy ice lining the sides of some parking lots. Some of those frozen dirt piles might be there until June.  The ground is soft, just like the air. It's not yet packed down with the heat of summer.  Rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks all skitter about in a frantic choreography, looking for food, playing with each other, mating, birthing.  Birds sing, their beaks upturned in joy after a spring rain has brought the worms to the surface.  

Spring here in the northern world comes later than it does for the rest of country.  I have coworkers in the South who are running their central air, while I just today turned off my furnace. Not for good, I'll probably need to turn it on again before April and May come to a close.  But the anticipation of that beautiful weekend is savored.  And once that weekend comes....

Well, we all get outside and rake up the rubbish that's been building under the snow. Discarded cigarette butts, soda cans, fast food wrappers, all rustle in the matted grass.  Homeowners clear out yard rubbish and hazardous materials from their garage and take them to the recycling center where they wait in line with all of the other spring cleaners.  Back yard bonfires light the night skies as we all realize that the mosquitoes aren't out yet and we're safe to sit outside for a little while. 

We wave at neighbors we haven't seen since September.  We chat about the winter and how we're glad it's gone and we blow the final fuel out of the snow blowers before we, in great hope, put them away not to be touched again until, again in great hope, December.

Soon it will be summer. Time for festivals with music and beer and fried foods.  Soon it'll be time for central air and humidity and wearing sweaters in stores and movie theaters because it's always so cold in there.   But right now, in these magical days scattered through out April and May, we have Spring and it's just NICE outside.

And that's why we stay. That's why we tolerate being considered second rate states and why our votes rarely count in elections and why we don't mind that our baseball and basketball teams haven't won a darn thing in two lifetimes.  Because of these blessed drops of gold that are our days of Spring.

And now, if you don't mind, I'm going out to enjoy mine right now!

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