I heard it for the first time in months this morning. I was in the midst of the morning routine I've developed while on this sabbatical. I had finished my morning writing, I'd finished my allotted 2 cups of coffee, I'd finished breakfast, I'd finished answering emails and was in the midst of my daily blog reading. There are several blogs I check on a regular basis. I was reading one, Tongue in Cheek, a blog written by an American woman living in France about life in France - one of my favorite daily reads. That's when I heard it. Thunder.
It has been drizzly, cloudy, foggy all week long - and dreary. No sunshine, no blue sky. Normally I hate weather like this. You have to have virtually every light in the house on to even come close to approximating daylight. It feels like it's 4:30 in the afternoon all day long. It's a struggle to wake up and an even greater struggle to stay up. I want to curl up on the sofa under a blanket and take a nap - all day.
But today it's different, because there is thunder. Immediately following that sound I heard another sound coming from my kitchen; it was familiar, yet I couldn't place it. When I went to investigate it was the sound of raindrops pounding on the garden window in my kitchen. It's another sound that I haven't heard in months. And, just now, there is lightning. Signs of Spring.
Yesterday I had some errand to run and while I was out I could see patches appearing in lawns - places where the snow has melted down enough that you can actually see grass. It first appears on the edges of the sidewalks and driveways where you were a little over-zealous in your shoveling. Then, it starts pulling away from the house and the garage. Then it starts spreading out from under the evergreen trees where it was protected enough that the snow never really got that deep to begin with. All of those can happen, and there can be more snow. But you know Spring is coming when the patches start - holes in the middle of lawns that can't possibly have come from the heat of the house or the warm air blowing from the dryer vent. It's real snow melt.
Every day this week the snow pack has continued to shrink, and shrink noticeably. The snow bank that I used for the beer refrigerator for my pre-St. Paddy's day dinner party this past weekend is now nothing more than a bumpy little hill. The holes left from the bottles of Guinness and Harp are now gone and the snow that is left is slightly reminiscent of a ski slope with moguls - in miniature.
The house is warmer, even though I haven't touched the thermostat at all. I've put away one of the extra quilts for the bed. I've gone from 3 layers of heavy clothing down to 2 layers of lighter weight. There's a promise of outdoors, being able to wear a jacket instead of a coat, wearing shoes instead of boots, and the reminder that sandals and flip flops exist for a reason and soon you'll actually get to remember what for. There's a promise of open windows.
It's still cold out, damp and chilly and too early for those things quite yet. But the promise of them is there in the rain. In addition to melting the snow it erases the dirt, that brown/black crust that sits on the edges of the snow banks the plows have created in the front lawns. Part dirt, part car exhaust, 100% ugly. It's being washed away by the rain. It's leaving clean behind it.
That's what Spring is about. Washing away the old. Beginning again with the new. New chances. New hope. New opportunities. I know there's still a possibility of a blizzard. This is, after all, Minnesota, and we haven't had State HS basketball tournaments yet. But even if the blizzard comes, it won't stay. The birds that nest every Spring in the tree outside my office window are back. I can hear them singing as I write. Spring is here. Open your grasp and let go of the winter. Open your arms, and windows, wide and embrace the Spring.
2 hours ago