The other day I went with one of my students for a walk around Lake Calhoun. After such a long cold winter, it was a delightful way to spend the afternoon.
Having just returned from Japan, with all of the lovely plum and cherry blossoms still on my mind, I got to thinking about how to describe spring in Minnesota to my friends overseas.
To tell you the truth, when I was growing up in Minnesota, I never could understand why poets would go on about the delicate blossoms and fragrances of spring. To me it seemed that everything just bloomed all at once and was then followed by the hot summer. As far as I knew, there never was enough time to savor the beauty of spring blossoms, let alone write poetry, before the mosquitoes and thunder storms came.
However, when I lived in Boston, London and then Japan, I was astonished to discover that there are places in the world where spring does come in beautiful little increments, spread out over several weeks. I even got an urge to start writing poetry.
When I moved back to Minnesota 9 years ago, I realized that although we don’t have the same gradual unfolding of pretty blossoms, we do have a beautiful transition of winter into spring that is marked more by the arrival of sound and movement, than by the coming of flowers. To me, blossoms are now the end of a long process of melting and softening that comes with the transformation of ice and snow into the waters of spring. Had I not lived away from here for so long, I don’t know if I would have appreciated how incredibly beautiful and hopeful that movement of ice into water can be.
This gradual transition of the frozen landscape of winter into the warm, soft world of mud and flowing water is what now marks the true beginning of spring for me.
Once the weather begins to warm up the first thing I notice every year is the return of the birdsong to the silent landscape. Rather than looking forward to a new blossom each week, I find myself eagerly anticipating the sweet melody of each bird as they return north, pausing for a moment to sing in my backyard.
I also find myself looking forward to the sound of melting ice and trickling water which marks the begining of the transformation of the hard dry landscape of winter into a mydrid of puddles, rushing streams and cracking ice pushing up against the shores of the lakes nearby.
As I look over my dream diaries in preparation for a panel discussion I will take part in this summer at the IASD conference in Chicago, I am struck by the number of dreams that also focus on this process of thawing out, melting, becoming fluid and finally moving with ease. There are dreams of frozen dogs coming back to life, women trapped under a layers of ice and cars that have had restorative body work driving through the mud, among others. In both the inner and outer worlds, this process of moving from a state of frozen lifelessness to a warmer, softer way of being in which the seeds that have been planted can now grow marks the coming of spring for me. It’s time for me to get outside and see what has softened up and is ready to blossom soon.