“Bare trees imprinted the black lace of their twigs on a gray and somber sky. Dingy with soot, snowdrifts had melted into slush and were freezing again… February, at once the shortest and longest month of the twelve, had outstayed its welcome. The year seemed stuck on the ridge of winter.”
Chapter One of Edwin Way Teale’s North with the Spring begins with that paragraph. It is odd in the middle of May to read that description of winter and remember back just twelve weeks to a February much like the one Teale evokes.
This was a winter that left me feeling stuck.
I should have been moving forward. For several months I had thought I was. The holidays and birthdays had brought out lots of creativity, and I was writing with a renewed sense of touching readers – maybe one reader in particular.
And then the reading stopped. It stopped in mid-February. After shoveling out another man’s car, clearing the snow off his windshield and roof time and again, the parking spot was mine again.
I had left a hardcover copy of The Lost Woods, one of my favorites of Teale’s works, on a bookcase in a Connecticut home. It may stay there a long time for all I know. Or it may show up in a post-office mailer another three months down the line.
I do know it is May and the landscape outside my front door has changed. The windows stay open for hours at a time on some evenings. On other days, the morning air keeps a chill from the night before.
Favorite meals have showed up on my dining room table two and three times over the past twelve weeks. When a friend sits across from me and shares them, I find myself at ease looking ahead to summer.
I recently picked up a novel entitled Night Train to Lisbon. I love Pascal Mercier’s portrait of a teacher in his late 50s at a moment of unexpected transition. I find myself searching airline fares to Lisbon. I find myself expecting again a future as exciting as any I could ever want.
“The seasons, like greater tides, ebb and flow across the continent. Spring advances up the United States at the average rate of about fifteen miles a day. It ascends mountainsides at the rate of about a hundred feet a day. It sweeps ahead like a flood of water, racing down the long valleys, creeping up hillsides in a rising tide.”
Lo, the winter is past.