Fall – a season that changes from day to day as we transition from summer to winter. It’s never an easy transition and yet we are surprised with the temperature and weather swings. Just as we were reveling in the beauty of the fall colors we woke up to a wintry snowfall a week ago. It powdered the tree leaves with white, accentuating the yellows and reds and reminding us of what lies ahead. The air was quiet with the sound of the falling snow, and the temperatures were still mild. The waterfowl that were here didn’t seem to mind although many have already begun their migration south. By early afternoon the snow had melted, and a few days later we were enjoying sun and the warmth of the 60’s. But this short snow was our reminder of the approaching winter season and the beauty that will come with a landscape covered in white.
Here in the north we are still waiting for spring’s arrival. Our skies have been gray, our temperatures have been 10-20 degrees below normal, and we’ve even had continuing frosts and snow. It’s been hard to keep our spirits up thinking that spring will not arrive in April but is holding off until sometime in May.
But there’s a lovely “cure” at the McNeely Conservatory in Como Park and it seems like everyone is making a mental-health trip to the conservatory. Spring is in bloom, with bright and lovely colors – reds, yellows, whites, pinks, and blues – and the scents of these blossoms float in the air. Everyone is smiling, taking photos of the colors with their phones, inhaling deeply, and spending time in the gardens trying to soak up the indoor promise of warmer weather.
Spring will come, although by now it may be fleeting. We may instead jump from winter to summer. But I’m sure we will all welcome the long-anticipated warmer weather and it’s accompanying blossoms and blooms.
Try as it might, spring has not arrived. Maybe for a day or two, but then it departs and we are back in winter.
The other morning we awoke to another dusting of snow. This time it was accompanied by a light fog hanging in the air, softening the branches in the distance and blurring this face of winter. Eventually the fog lifted and the snow melted. And then a day or two later the process repeated. So now we wait. Will there be another snow or will we round that final corner from winter to spring?
We’re slowly lurching our way from winter to spring, yet the transition is never smooth or straight. Our expectations (and our dispositions) soar when the sun comes out and starts to thaw the ice. The temperature rises to an unseasonable 60 degrees and everyone is smiling. The next day the thermometer drops back to winter, all that was liquid refreezes, and we know deep down that the “final” transition has not arrived. There’s snow in the forecast again tomorrow. This open water will likely freeze but hopefully the ice layer will be thin and ready to thaw once again when the sun returns and the melt begins anew.
On December 19th I wrote that I had accepted a challenge for people to get outside for 30 minutes everyday for 101 days. In that post I said that I can walk about two miles in 30 minutes, and so I challenged myself to do that, and to reach 400 walking miles for the entire year of 2021. I’m happy to say that I did reach my 400-mile goal, before December 31st, and just today I’ve reached the goal of walking for 101 consecutive days, 2+ miles per day.
When I started the 101 days it was November 24, 2021 and we still had golden leaves on the ground, there was green lawns, and the sidewalks and paths were clear. Within ten days the temperatures had dropped and there was snow on the ground. Our winter continued into 2022, and today there is still snow covering the ground. But I have enjoyed so many experiences on my walks. I have walked during a light snowfall when the world seems magical and beautiful and the lights inside the houses are warm and glowing. I’ve trudged through an overnight snowfall of almost five inches with the wind instantly blowing and drifting the snow over my footprints. I’ve seen deer and I’ve heard wolves. I’ve listened to woodpeckers drilling and I’ve seen sparrows huddled in the brush trying to keep warm. I have been out on sun-warmed days when everyone was smiling and so happy for any bit of warmth, and I’ve bundled myself up in multiple layers to protect from the wind and the cold. I’ve watched the moon rise and the sun too.
I haven’t decided yet if I will continue to walk every day; I have already logged 143 miles this year. I’m sure I will walk for at least awhile as I know that being outside in nature is a balm to me amidst all the uncertainties and worries of today, tomorrow, and the future.