Monday, April 16, 2012

The Death of Spring?

Usually I burst with creative spasmic energy this time of year. But now?

I do like spring. I generally go go go in the spring. I’m not going to go against the grain on this one. I live in ice berg Minnesota where the snow can pile up to the tops of stop signs and your Jeep can spin donuts into the intersection where you are killed by a snow plow driven by a furry fellow who’s eaten nothing but deer meat since November and is hallucinating from a lack of vitamins D and C. Winter is tough business up here in the Big Woods (also the place where large, hairy spiders live in your shower drain). The coming of spring means you didn’t freeze to death in a pile of snow, and you probably won’t, at least until October. It’s excellent. Euphoria! I'm alive!

But, this year – I assume due to global warming -- I’ve experienced no euphoria brought on by the sudden presence of sun, soft breeze and the return of the honking geese that live in the pond across from my house. Why? Winter didn’t really happen. There was very little danger. The snowplows were parked. The furry fellows got D producing sunshine. The roadways were clear. The neighbors sat outside and talked about parking tickets instead of ice fishing accidents. Winter was a non-event.

Unless you count this: In February I went jogging in cut off blue jeans.

And so, when those buttery yellow first flowers of spring started poking their tubery heads out of the ground in March (when usually all we see poking from the snow are the frozen hands of freeze dried squirrels), I thought: Big Deal. I thought: I’ve seen it all before. I thought: I feel nothing.

This is a sad state of affairs. One of the reasons I chose to live in the upper Midwest is that seasons are brutal and meaningful. Every year contains the cycle of life in stark terms. Summer is young adulthood with its freedom, vacation, over-spending and disorienting indulgence. Fall brings the calm of age. Beautiful color. The slowing. The aches of November. A realization that the end is near. Winter is finality, complete with life ending everywhere around you and the burying of that which is dead. Piles of snow! Piles that can cover you if you’re not careful. And then… the spring, rebirth! We are all children again and everything is new and amazing! Great stuff for a writer.

But the flowers this year were not new. The grass never quite disappeared. The lake froze for a moment. The geese came back in February. I jogged around in my shortest cut offs. And the buttery little daffodils of March did not move me at all.

My New-Style Winter Jogging Pants

I want brave policy-makers to do something about this situation. I want my winter back. I want those daffodils to make my guts sing spring songs once again.

--Geoff Herbach


  1. I JUST discovered a pair of really cute fur-trimmed winter boots I forgot I bought, because winter in MO was pretty mild, too, this year...Even if spring is lackluster, the girl in me can ALWAYS get inspired by shoes...

  2. Yeah! If the topic were how cut-offs impact your writing, I would have something big to say!

    1. Oooh...We should have a theme on clothes and writing. (Just the idea of it makes me think of Douglas in WONDER BOYS...)

  3. OMG!!!! Yes!!!! You captured it perfectly and I want to see a picture of you in those shorts being stupid fast. BTW--I adored your book. I'm also a little scared. How am I going to feed THREE teenage boys in the future????

  4. Ha! I was just having a conversation about the teen boy eating with a mom who'd raised several boys the other day (because my son is 14 and he won't stop!). She suggests you make all sandwiches on large bagels (not healthy for us adults, but the carbs are satisfying to the kids). I tried it and it stopped my boy in his tracks! So glad you liked Stupid Fast, Kimberly! Maybe I'll start showing up at book events in the cut-offs?