You know that the winter has been too long when, on the first sunny day, you go outside and lie in a sunbeam on the driveway, oblivious to the neighbor’s stares, until either the wind or the discomfort of the concrete on your back forces you back inside. A couple of weeks ago we had a beautiful day like that. The first warm day of Spring. After we tired of the driveway my son and I walked round our yard checking for buds on the trees and making plans to spend time cleaning up the flowerbeds. Hope. It’s a beautiful thing. Spring appeared to have arrived. The next day I went to work without a coat, only to be surprised by a fairly heavy snowshower in the morning. That’s Spring in Wisconsin.
This week we had more beautiful weather. The daffodils were blooming joyously, the children played outside in the evenings, the frogs and the birds were singing. But in April in Wisconsin you can never escape the rumors of snow. They began as a scarcely believable whisper on a 70 degree day, and matured into a miserable sleety snowstorm this afternoon. I refuse to drag my big coat out again though, there is nothing worse than putting away a winter coat and then having to take it out again. It is like giving up your dreams.
This has been a really long winter. There has been the weather of course, and the darkness. Then just when the days started to get longer we all got the flu, and then there was the big project at work that took all our time and then some. It seemed like there was always something. It’s been all work and no play. I hate the winter anyway, but this year it somehow seemed worse. Then one day I heard birdsong and saw the daffodil shoots coming up through a layer of frost in the garden. It was the beginning of hope.
It’s the hope generated by the sound of the birds in the morning and the sight of the daffodils blooming as the snow falls that gets me through the April snowshowers. The end is in sight. The long winter is over and gone, the time of the singing of birds has come. Every year around January 20th, I wonder why I live here. And every April I find out why. Without winter’s struggle, I would not appreciate Spring. If the birds never left, we wouldn’t know the thrill of their homecoming. Somewhere in the depths of winter the hope of Spring is born. And in that struggle I learn something about how far I can go and how long I can endure, even though I am never happy about it.
The transition to Spring is like a picture of the struggles of life. Hard things show us how much further we can go after we think we are all done. And somewhere along the way hope comes, and that hope sustains us until the day when even the most pessimistic forecast cannot conjure up a snowflake.