Down on the Farm: Slow melt
Spring is arriving slower than the last day of school in sixth grade. If delayed gratification develops adulthood, most of us in the northland will be grown up and a little gray before the apple trees bloom.
Despite our foul mood, we know in our heads that the slow snow melt is good. Perhaps the threat of yet another spring flood will fizzle.
As the massive snowbanks shrink, local sages observe that very little water has run off. Is most of the moisture sinking into the soil? One can hope.
I still hope for enough run-off to fill the swamp in front of the house. It dried to nothing last summer. The swan pair has flown over the swamp twice, but they won't land and start a new family unless there is enough water to float their little fleet. No muskrats, no beaver, no ducks, no geese. Not without water.
The only wildlife so far in front of the house, save for songbirds, has been a family of three desperate deer who forage for millet beneath the bird feeders.
When last year's fawns hungrily horn in for some fallen food, Mama Doe kicks them with her hooves! She's had enough. Time for the kids to move out and get a job. Apparently, Dad Deer didn't stick around to help raise his young, the irresponsible jerk.
Hunger makes deer almost tame. During summer, deer hear your feet hit the floor when you get out of bed and they gallop down the drive in terror. During this late spring, I rap on the window inches from their nose and they gaze at me with mild interest.
An excruciatingly slow spring melt reminds me of when my parents, in an attempt to teach me financial responsibility, started me up with a passbook savings account at the bank.
They tossed in $45. I added $5 plus change from my ceramic piggy bank.
The way those passbook savings accounts worked was that you could go into the bank every now and then and the teller would add up the interest, scratch it in your passbook, and you could see how wealthy you were becoming. So, I went in to the teller after months of waiting with my passbook under my pillow and found out my $50 had grown into...$52.17.
I was supposed to be thrilled that I earned $2.17 for doing absolutely nothing for six months. Instead, I was disappointed that the endless months of hard time hadn't made me wealthy.
Two bucks! That was barely enough to order a family of sea monkeys from the back of the Archie comic book!
The lesson learned? Take your piggy bank money and order the sea monkeys. Today. Don't wait, for we know not what the morrow brings. It might snow.
Cod liver oil. Broccoli. Interest payments of $2.17. Vitamins. Early bedtimes. Long, slow snow melts. Late springs. They're all the same. They're all good for you, but I am getting too old for them to improve me any further.
Like the thirsty Greek mythological figure Tantalus, who was forced for eternity to stand neck-deep in pure, cool water which would recede if he attempted to drink; who, additionally, was subjected to the sight of beautiful grapes which would pull away before he could pick them––spring forever recedes into the distance, just out of our reach.
Drip, drip, drip goes the slow Minnesota melt, a form of Chinese water torture specifically designed to test the stoicism of already stoic northerners.
The trouble with living here for a long time is that you start thinking you must endure endless misery (March) in order to enjoy a smidgen of happiness (four nice days in October).
Let me inform you that I have been out and about this winter and have discovered places on earth, namely California and Arizona, where suffering is limited to traffic jams and occasional loss of life and/or property, where a cold day means wearing a sweater, where a little snow means dancing outside with jumping dogs and happy children, where almost daily sunshine warms one to the bone.
If we had the sense of our ancestors, Minnesotans would become nomadic. With modern technology, we could migrate more easily than the ancients.
Forget the camels and pack mules, let's get together a caravan of flatbed trucks and move the entire town to Arizona for five months per year. School, nursing home, cafes, bars, churches, the works.
When the geese fly north, so would we, but not until. Nature is trying to tell us something with this slow melt. It is time we listened.