04 April 2010

The little winter

Spring sunrise in South Dakota

As the wiser ones predicted, our luck with the weather did not extend to a third drive into Nebraska this weekend. Spring is like that up here. The birds return on the great flyway migration north, the trees start budding, the bulb plants poke up greenery, and then a snowstorm sweeps in from nowhere. Since our plan was to take the field trip on tiny roads that the Nebraska DOT listed as being under "extreme caution," which does not bode well for vans full of students, the leader took the option of cancelling the trip. The correct, if disappointing and frustrating, option, in my opinion.

Of course, the wet heavy snow melted by that evening.....

This is part of what John Nichols, in The Milagro Beanfield War, calls "the little winter that always occurred after the false spring." He describes it as follows:

"The ritual Death of the Fruit Tree Blossoms began toward the end of every March when, after a long hard winter, warm air coursed lovingly into the Miracle Valley, leading all the fruit trees to believe spring was just around the corner. And, believing this, their sap began running, their buds grew fat, their branches suddenly burst forth into flowers. … Whereupon, inevitably … there ensued a final week of frost and frequently snow that turned into blizzards … and all the fruit tree blossoms were killed and the subsequent summer came and went without so much as a boo! from a single pear, apple or plum."

That's us. We're there. 

The birds, however, are here, and are not going away. They see the end of winter in sight, even if we get frustrated by the changes. I think they're on to something....

Meadowlark singing in all directions, on a snowy spring day.

It's spring, the bread is is its final rise, and I think we're ready for the next crazy-busy month. It's a day of quiet celebration for all.

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