From Ice Storm to Ice Cream in 5 1/2 Weeks

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The past 6 weeks have seen an amazing transformation. \

April 6 we were still ankle-deep or more in snow.

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When I parked the car here for a look at our newly-thawed river, before we even got out of the car, I just cried because I had reached a breaking point. I had just sung the dinosaur song at another indoor playgroup for what felt like the 45,000th time, and I'm pretty sure I was going to lose my mind. In that moment, in the car, I heard a robin for the first time. It was the beginning of the bird cacophony that would add a new bird or several each passing week. I still couldn't keep it together over the next few minutes, but hearing flowing water for the first time in months seemed to help.

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I'm still in denial and a little shock that it's really over. We had so many false starts - in one case, an almost complete thaw. One night, I was washing dishes when the rain was starting up. (Rain! Not snow! Wow! Such a new sound.) For an unexplainable reason, I panicked. I put on my boots and jacket and ran out to the last patch of snow and gathered up a big, icy handful. I tried to form it into a snowman there in the rain, but it wouldn't mold. It was just a chunk of frozen pellets. So I took my fistful and took it inside and put it in the freezer. I'm not sure why. Was I trying to have the last laugh? To control winter in some way after months of powerlessness? Was it that strange syndrome prisoners have when they are first released from prison, that they just want to go back because it's what they know? It's been so long since we'd blown bubbles or drawn with sidewalk chalk. My children are so little and so much has happened and so much has changed since we've seen the ground, I'd forgotten such summer activities. And things will be different this time. This time, C is probably finally old enough to control the wand himself and not spill too much of the bubble solution. This time, G can probably reach the tricycle pedals. Have I missed those points at which they were first capable by being trapped inside?

I'm not sure. I only know there is still a little dirty ice chunk in our freezer, shrinking slowly. A way of freezing time. I dislike the changing of the seasons, because they force me to move on before I'm ready - to put away clothes not fully outgrown, to encounter experiences I hadn't anticipated or set up. They make you let go regularly. I'm not on that schedule yet. But I do know that I have proved to myself that I could survive a long, deep, dangerous at times - winter.

This crazy snow-rescue night was followed by a 2-inch dump the next morning, April 16.

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Nom nom nom. One last April snowball.
Nom nom nom. One last April snowball.

What struck me when the snow melt began and plant matter emerged again was what survived. Fully intact pinecones, light as a feather, and leaves, fragile and perfect. Barely there, but still strong. That's me, too.

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The last snow in our yard didn't melt until April 20.

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But there was still more in places. We set out exploring the very last snow patches just to make sure. We said a gentle goodbye to a harsh winter. I needed a tactile reality and to say goodbye on my own time. So we sought out the land that was on my schedule.

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While we were here, C picked his first flowers since November. "Bwack fwowers." Winter flowers.

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But then it all melted. It really, really did.

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April 14, I put G in short sleeves for the first time since August. She probably doesn't remember short sleeves.

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It was disorienting to her at first, and she kept trying to pull the short sleeves down to her wrists.

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She got used to it, though.

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Things have been getting greener ever since. Easter Sunday, April 20, we saw the very first flowers - some small yellow flowers on a hillside by the railroad tracks.

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And the day we went to the Alpaca farm (about a half hour east of our house), C picked his first flowers of the year, and placed it in our picnic basket. April 25.

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For a week or so, we had rainy, chilly, windy, more or less bleak weather.

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April 29, still haven't put the coats away.

Then sun. Sun! Magical, wonderful sun.

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May 2, the first sandy baby feet. And the first swing of spring!

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As spring progresses, so do her curls...

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May 3, the first sundress.

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May 6, back to coat weather...and still not very green. Grass began to emerge. Some flowers some places, but not ubiquitous.

May 7, the first dandelions appeared up where we live. This particular day, we attended MOPS at a church in Madison. Afterwards, 8 children ages 2-11 were playing outside while the moms talked off away near the building. As I had the yonugest child, I felt compelled to keep a closer watch on her, and the other children sort of took me in as one of them. They decorated me with flowers and led me to their sand pit of invisible treasures. They pointed down a path in the woods to where a small cave was. It was rumored a bear slept there once. They taught me how to peel open a hollow giant dandelion stem just right and turn it into a horn.

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It was also the first day to go to Gifford's (ice cream & mini golf). I let them play in the features of the closed mini-golf course. And we had ice cream for lunch.

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I'm pretty sure C collected about 25 new freckles.

In 5 1/2 amazing weeks, we've gone from ice on the ground to ice cream on our faces. It's a good change. And we're all ready for it.