When the first April snowstorm hit, I took disbelieving pictures and posted them on Facebook along with every other person in Minnesota.
There was such a sense of injustice, of needing others to see this snow-crusted abomination. It was one collective, frustrated can-you-believe-this? And status update after status update was all about the snow.
When the second April snowstorm hit, I took zero pictures and I refused to leave the house all day. Instead, we watched PBS and ate animal crackers by the bowlful.
It was snowing last Friday when I drove down to Chicago with my kids, and then it snowed one more time in Minnesota while we were gone. Andrew sent me photo and a desolate text. It’s a good thing we were away. I might not have actually survived the Third April Snowstorm.
In November or January or March, the snow comes, and I am steeled for it. I don’t love the cold season, but I understand that it’s part of it. I live in the Northern Midwest, and that means 10,000 lakes and that special Northwoods kind of beauty. It means the Stone Arch Bridge and wood ducks and lilacs…and a long, mean winter.
But once a teacher told me that March might come in like a lion, but it goes out like a lamb. We colored in Xeroxed copies of umbrellas and memorized that little adage, April showers bring May flowers, and I absorbed it as truth.
And while the “official” First Day of Winter and summer and spring might be marked down in some calendar somewhere, our sense of them is deeper. We know in our gut when one has gone on for too long, when another is too short.
We know that there is something fundamentally wrong about snow in April.
Much has been made of “faith seasons.” It’s an analogy that has been so overused that now it teeters on the edge of cliché and anecdote – things that I tend to really hate.
But the snow keeps coming when it ought to be done, and I can’t help thinking that’s exactly how The Mad Season goes.
The nature of Depression is that it keeps up when a normal bout with the Blues would have eased into something warmer, something greener, something lighter.
Doubt and cynicism and anger are a cold wind that keeps on beating against your heart, and I remember the powerlessness of it. I remember that feeling of wanting to get better and not being able to…and it was like being stuck in some endless winter.
Like the whole world is Instagramming barbeques and tree-climbing and new, budding trees, and all you see is snow.
But we have learned to do seasons by the calendar, by the book, and we seem to have little patience for one another’s sprawling Mad Seasons. We are kind and understanding…for a while…and then we get frustrated. Really? Still? And this is where we tend to give up – disappear into our own sunny worlds, closing the doors behind us.
And maybe in some instances these things are self-inflicted. Sometimes it’s a matter of getting the courage to stand up and put on your boots and go for a walk anyway. But sometimes, you can’t. The snow keeps coming, and you are hunkered down in it, and you feel entirely alone.
And either way, we need each other. We need understanding and patience. Kindness and goodness and so much grace.
The first warm day comes only four days after that Third Snowstorm. In the span of half a week, we move from boots to sandals, from winter coats to pale toddler tummies bare in the backyard.
The trees are still stripped bare and there are no buds anywhere that I can see. The grass is patchy and snow-burned and sharp.
I’m amazed that it can look so much like winter and so much like spring at the same time. And at the same time, there’s something that feels profoundly true about that to me.
So much of the time, it overlaps. We are healing; we are sick. We are half-dead, coming to life. The sun is shining and the warmth comes like grace, and still, the whole world looks dried out and broken.
The sun is starting to rise now at 5:48, and the ducks are shaking off water at the edge of the pond. And you can see only Spring if you choose to. Or you can see only the remains of Winter. But the truth lies in choosing to see both at the same time.
In the end, all of this takes time. The lightening, the growing, the softening. It will come. It always comes. But there is nothing you can do to hasten the change. You can’t wish it green or force the warmth. It is where it is.
On the first warm day, you sit on the deck, and you are warm and chilled all at once. And, really, all you can do is take someone’s hand. Sit together. Watch for it.