Year in and year out, my father would complain about the doldrums of winter. The cold wasn’t really the issue. He is a man of insurmountable will power. I seldom remember him wearing gloves or a coat. The exterior temperature was merely mind over matter; you can only feel cold if you let yourself. The snow in the driveway, however, was something he could not will away; just another chore in the too long to do list. Having made a permanent migration to the sunny haven of Florida, he now speaks of leaving behind not just the chore of shoveling, but the dirt. He hated the sand encrusted embankments that followed every snow.
For fifteen years now, we have shared a light-hearted joust over the weather. Dad calls to gloat after every big snow storm or when we reach sub zero in the north. He used to send newspaper clippings of his never-changing forecast, boasting of running his air-conditioner on his 85 degree winter days. My repose is always the same; “You don’t know what you’re missing, Dad!” When a freshly fallen snow dresses earth in a delicate white robe and silence downs out life’s usual noise, it is one of God’s greatest magic tricks. I remember one winter where the storm cycle was every three or four days, each time a new blanket nearly a foot deep, eliciting many phone calls from the Deep South. I clung tightly to my child-like thrill of being snowed in, not allowing a point to be scored by the heat.
This year, however, winter feels different. I have a real and tangible lust for spring to arrive. Snow has thus far been left out of the forecast and as winters go, it has been most mild. Perhaps the trouble is it is simply not cold enough. When the weather man speaks of snow, it is in showers, resulting in less than a dusting, quickly sipped off by the sun like cinnamon on the top of cappuccino. My allergy to sameness finds me congested in the dead brown earth.
I look to my gardens like a child to the Christmas tree, anticipation building to open what lies beneath. The mild weather reveals little green points of hope, teasing me as I know I must endure more than 70 dreary days until they burst to life. Endless days of gray and rain and even the sun seems to have vacated to somewhere less dormant. Dispositions reflect the dismal weather and depression seems as contagious as the flu. So what is the point of living in the North?
I suppose, like every difficult trying chapter our lives write, we are strengthened by the trials. Never being deprived of anything, we are left incapable of appreciating, really being grateful for the abundance. It is being hungry that makes us delight in eating, being tired that makes sleep so refreshing; being lonely that makes friendship so precious. No one can appreciate a flower or the smell of fresh cut grass quite like we in the north, and that is the point of living here.
I am, in many ways, like a tulip bulb, needing my period of dormancy. I feel my roots stir beneath the surface just a little on the warmer days, other wise, lying in wait, storing my energy for that moment when all comes back to life. The thrill of seeing it come back, just as promised, is a feeling unmatched by any other. Sometimes, the wait seems longer, almost unbearable, but sorry Dad, I am a tulip at heart and will remain forever seasonal.