“Mom, why is winter taking so long?” My four-year-old has asked me this question exactly every day for a week straight. When he says it, the phrase is drawn out. It carries that tone of voice only a genuine child can produce when talking to their parents:
Mo—ommm. My name is drawn out and nasal. This word alone indicates a complaint will surface next.
Why is winter takinnnggg soooooo long? The tone here is the vocal equivalent of feet kicking at the floor. It’s the sound of dissatisfaction and unrest.
Though most of us don’t intone these exact words, aren’t we all wondering the same thing? By March the snow is definitely still here — but we are all ready for spring. Especially those of us who aren’t from around here.
The days are rapidly growing longer. For months we’ve been waking up in the dark, starting the day in the dark, and coming home in (you guessed it) the dark. Now, the sky is light in the morning. We are already discussing adding the extra black out curtains to our son’s rooms. After being plunged into frigid blackness for so long, who cares if it’s only 15 ̊ as we leave the house for church on Sunday? The sun is shining. The high is 30 ̊. And winter is taking so long.
Forget the coat, gloves, and hat. We are living in a spring mentality now.
A few days ago my son had some constructive ideas after his daily inquiry of how much longer winter would last.
Him: Can we make a countdown to when winter will be over?
Me: Hmmmmm. Honey, that’s tricky. We don’t ever really know when winter will be over around here. It could be a while yet. [Mentally remembering May snow storms.]
Him: Can it be Christmas again?
Me: Nope. Not until next winter. [Mentally noting that winter really is more fun around Christmastime.]
Him: Can we get out the spring box?
Me: Oh, I s’pose.
The spring box is a plastic bin of easter and spring decor. There’s a “fall box” and “Christmas boxes” too.
I lugged the spring box up from the basement and opened the lid. I looked inside at the bunnies and flowers, then out the window at the snowman we built over a month ago — still frozen in the front yard. It all seemed so incongruous.
Next, I looked at the calendar to confirm the Lent season has really started. Easter is only a month away. According to the calendar, bunnies, and chicks are very appropriate decor right now.
We put away snowflakes that have been hanging above the cabinets since Christmas and frosty greenery from vases. Jovial plastic eggs were placed in candy dishes. Ceramic bunnies gifted from grandparents in the 90s took up residence on the mantel.
When we finished my son said, “Is that it?”
“For now, I’m afraid so.”
Later the temperature climbed to a sunny 35 ̊ — with no wind. We left our bunnies and eggs inside, donned light jackets and went out to play. The sun had melted ice and snow, leaving puddles for splashing. I put sunglasses on and sat on the stoop blowing bubbles for my boys to pop.
It was a perfect spring day.
Except it was only 35 ̊. Except when they weren’t popping bubbles, they were digging holes in mounds of snow next to the sidewalk. Except it’s only the beginning of March, and we still have plenty of snow days, wind chill warnings, and general winter ahead of us.
This is March in Minot. As things thaw, things get weird. We’ve all lost our sense of season, temperature and reason. Before March is over, I’ll see men wearing shorts as they walk into Menards. Before April is over, I’ll wear a tank top on a 60 ̊ day. Before winter is over we will all wonder at some point, Why is winter taking so long?
Although it is long, winter around here is faithful. Faithful to turn into spring. Faithful to give way to those endless summer days that inevitably make the winter worth every icy shuffle and every chapped lip. The summers really are perfect up here. That’s what I tell everyone who asks how I cope with a winter that never seems to end. “The summer is always worth the wait,” I tell them. And it always is.