May Morning, McLeod Bay

The wind has died and the sky has cleared.  The sun is well up over the horizon by 6 a.m.  Cold again, down to -18 overnight.  (Celsius, Yankees, Celsius… why don’t you get with the rest of the world?)   I step out on the upper deck of the cabin, wearing a down sweater and a wool hat, wool slippers on my bare feet, a cup of hot coffee in my hand.  As I stand there looking out over the long white ice, across to the distant snowy ramparts of the Kahochella, the silence is the first thing that strikes me.  A couple of dogs look up at me from the yard, but most of them are curled up in their houses.  Our resident ravens are up and doing, but they are not talking this morning.  Nothing to say, I suppose.  I get that.

We truly are a minority in this summer-infatuated culture — we who love winter and hate to see it go.  Well, no, that is not precisely it.  I do love winter, but what tugs at my heart on these frosty May mornings is how much I cherish this final round of it, right on the cusp of spring.  All this wonderful warm light streaming in while the ice is still hard and white and the dogs are still happy and running.  The deep tan on everyone’s faces and the delicious trickle of meltwater in the afternoons, frozen hard again by dawn. The undertone of being on the verge of something unstoppable, a mighty force advancing from the south but not quite here yet.  Let this last, I think to myself every year, oh please can we just have a late spring this year, and an extra three weeks of days like this?  Think of the work we could get done out in the woods with this combination of long days and snow cover, says my practical side.  Think of the ear;ly mornings just like this one, quiet and just warm enough to be out, with this light streaming in from the northeast, this crispness in the air, this crunch underfoot, this silence.

After a few minutes, from the woods to the north of the house, a bird voice.  I am not throwing this in for effect or making it up.  Again, and no mistaking it — it is a robin.  A cold robin this morning, but a robin nonetheless.  Saying to her husband, “I told you we were going to be early, dear.  But oh no, you were all go go go… Now look at us.  You see any worms for Pete’s sake?”

And down in Louisville, it’s Derby Day.  Pick your horses; sounds like it’s going to be a mudfest this year.  We’ll be tuned in, via the mixed blessing of satellite radio.   Go Calvin!


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  1. Gordon Hommes said:

    I, too, like these spring mornings. There is still knee-deep snow in the woods here in northeastern Minnesota, and the nights are still mostly sub-freezing–but thankfully not down to -18 C. There are deep blue skies, gusty NW winds (no doubt, bringing air that was near Great Slave Lake two days ago), and birds excited for the snow to melt and the nesting season to begin.

  2. Stein said:

    This one makes me wonder:
    We love the winters cold. We love these spring months with their cold nights. We love the summer nights that never get dark, and we love the colours of fall. Is there a season where you every year experience that you are longing for the next season. I mean, don’t we always feel that the season we are in at the moment is the best season, and should have lasted longer…?

  3. Good point, Stein. To answer your rhetorical question, though: Yes there are two seasons when I do find myself hoping that the next change will come sooner than later. One is July, with its heat and bugs — I much prefer August with its cooler nights and some darkness at night, less intense heat, and far fewer mosquitoes. One starts about the 15th of October, when all the leaves are down and the weather is turning truly cold and windy but there is still no usable ice anywhere, and scarcely enough snow for sledding. By late November, the close of that period and the true start of winter, we are yearning day by day for true freeze-up, hard ice, and more snow. I love all the seasons, and the challenges and wonders that each brings. But I am glad July and the season of freeze-up are no longer than they are. They are each just right. yours, Dave

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