I think the darkness is harder to bear than the cold. Everyone who comes to Minot thinks about the cold. Everyone dreads the cold. Everyone talks about the cold.
But very few mention the darkness.
In the fall we ride a slippery slope to days spent in the dark. It happens quickly. One day you’re raking leaves after dinner and the next you practically need a lamp on to see your lunch.
During our “shortest days” we’ve got a precious 8 hours and 20 minutes of daylight. The darkness is hard.
But now it’s March, and I've got great news — that same rapid pace that throws us into the dimness of winter is flinging us toward the endless light of summer.
In my opinion, there is no greater mood booster, no better energy enhancer than the first major thaw that usually coincides with “springing” the clocks forward. Now, we’ve got light. Now, we’ve got water on the sidewalks instead of ice. Now, it’s light after dinner and we feel invincible, because there is so much day left at the end of the day.
When the clocks move forward and the snow starts to melt, we all emerge from our winter hiding places. Although we’ve seen each other, it often seems like we haven’t seen each other since the festivities of Christmas. January and February are full of arctic windchills. There’s no time to pause for a visit when you are shuffling from car to building with no coat on a -20˚ day. You make a run for it and offer a quick “Hello,” which is often swallowed up by the wind.
All of that changes when The Thaw begins.
Now, we can stop to chat when we pass in the parking lot. Now, we can gather on the sidewalk with neighbors. Now, we can start to wonder how we will get our kids to bed when the sun is still above the trees at 8 p.m.
I’ve never lived in a place where spring inspires such vivacity, such a profound shift in mood — not only in me, but the entire community. I see my children and neighbors brightening. Working is easier. Errands are easier. Even thinking is easier. Things are becoming new again, and we all feel it at a bone marrow level. Instead of focusing on how quickly we can get back to our home, we are making plans. Plans to go to take a walk, meet at the playground. The locals are even beginning to talk about going to “the lake” (wherever that is — but that’s a conversation for another day.)
Spring may not officially start for a few more days, but I think we can all agree that we are close enough. Yes, there will probably be more cold days. There may even be a May snow storm. But we’ve all seen the sun. The light is growing at breakneck speed. Snow can’t change the length of our days. We all know spring snow doesn’t last, anyway.
Yes, I say we are close enough.
So here is your charge: Get ready to pull down the plastic covering your draftiest windows. Inflate your bike tires. Find the windbreakers. Be prepared to swap storm windows for screens. Buy your zoo pass. Sign the kids up for little league.
Spring is happening, and we’re all here for it. Another snow storm may happen — but let’s keep our eyes trained on the growing light.