Living in the desert, I got used to the weather never really changing beyond temperature. I also forgot how real, actual seasons affect people. Now coming out of my first real Winter in 20-plus years, Spring has cast a spell on me. I find myself called outdoors; to be alive, renewed, and fresh as the Daffodils and Crocuses blooming all over town.
At the same time, something about this past Winter was so painful, I’m already feeling a sense of urgency around preparing for next Winter. We’ve barely had two days above 80°F/27°C and I’m already worrying I won’t have enough time to address all the things that made daily, Winter life a literal mess. I’m trying to reconcile the seasons.
I come from the land all summer.
I spent the last 20+ years in Phoenix, Arizona, where there are basically two seasons: Hot & Not-Hot. Unlike how most people in the northern hemisphere (?) spend their Winters indoors, Phoenicians spend theirs outside—because Winter in Phoenix is like Spring in the Midwest (only sunnier, without hail or tornados). Dry heat is still heat, though, and by late Summer, even the swimming pools are hot.
Even so, some of the most striking observations I’ve made since moving to eastern Iowa 10 months ago stem from having spent so much time somewhere there really isn’t much in the way of weather diversity. I mean, unless the meteorologists said there was a 100% chance of rain somewhere in the valley, it wasn’t even worth flipping a coin. 500 square miles of asphalt heat sink overpower all but Mother Nature’s most powerful storms.
Winter broke me.
Winter in Iowa City was cold, dark, and dreary. Sure, it wasn’t all dark and dreary—and Winter does have its perks—but Winter broke me. I didn’t even notice it until Spring. Just kept chugging along, one foot in front of the other, until the planet started leaning back into the Sun a few weeks ago. Almost overnight, there were buds on the trees and greenery breaking through the muck.
Daylight Savings Time certainly played a part. Back in November, I turned all the clocks back an hour for the first time in over 20 years. It was stupid and it broke our brains. Last month, we arbitrarily moved them back forward because apparently we all need a few more weeks of dragging our collective asses out of bed in the dark while the sun doesn’t set until after 8PM.
Snow is awesome. Cold isn’t so bad, either. I waited my entire life to actually daily drive 4WD in the snow. The problem is, there wasn’t much snow. Jokes about our bringing some Arizona heat with us aside, so many comments about how this Winter was actually considered mild reinforce the climate-change-minded reasons for selecting Iowa City for our move. And yet, mild or not, Winter here is cold, dark, and dreary. I will be a snowbird ASAP.
Spring in my step.
The mental fog has lifted. Flowers and greenery and warm weather bring an almost instinctive desire to be outside doing things. It’s okay to think about being outdoors again because the return of Spring means “every” day will be nice. At least, more often than not. I mean, there’s still a chance for snow now and then, but those days are soundly the exception these days.
And yet, Winter sucked so hard I’m already feeling a sense of dread about its return. This is clearly a sign that my perspectives are out of focus. I’m looking everywhere but right here, right now. Even so, I find myself looking at good weather plans through a different lens than I used to, now that “good weather” can’t be taken for granted.
Reconciling the seasons
I want to channel the sense of urgency around using Spring, Summer, and Fall to prepare the house for an easier Winter when that bastard comes back round in six months—but I don’t want to spoil the good weather with an irrational fear of the inevitable (which, truly, wasn’t that bad). Consider the ant, my ass. I’m dusting every anthill I find between now and September.
The yard will get over-seeded. The parking situation will be resolved. And all the windows and screens and gutters and soffits will get refurbished. Not out of fear of Winter’s inevitable return (for at least a decade or so, anyway), but because these are good things to do outside when the weather is nice. Person-Place-People—but I’m also feeling an anthropological approach comes in handy. More on that later. Or not. We’ll see.
I’ve got 100 crocus bulbs and 500 square feet of California Poppies to plant this weekend. On top of installing some window AC units and (finally) starting to strip Fezzik’s interior. Oh yeah, and I should probably start thinking about doing the taxes.