Sunday in Minneapolis was a postcard-picture perfect day of loveliness. Both Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) and Dolly G. Squeakers (formerly of the Humane Society Squeakers) laid in the shade of the ferns and the grapevines (respectively), slit-eyed and smiling, dreams of old and slow birds almost visible above their fuzzy little heads.
It is at this time of year, however, that nagging thoughts begin to creep into the corners of one’s mind. The petunias are thinning, the ferns have begun to droop, the nights have grown perceptibly cooler. There’s plenty of life in the Old Girl, but still… Like any good Minnesotan, a small piece of my brain, perhaps triggered by the Minnesota State Fair, has turned toward thoughts of preparation for – should I say it?
Winter: such a thin, cold word. Look at it. Scarcely a loop of warmth in it, the “e” holding tight, sandwiched between the sharp and unforgiving “t” and the noncommittal “r”…
My grandma taught me a poem when I was small:
The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow
And what will the birdies do then, the poor things?
They’ll hide in the barn, to keep themselves warm
And tuck their heads under their wings, the poor things.
I dragged my laptop into the backyard yesterday, soaking it up: the blue, blue sky; the occasional industrious ant scurrying across my foot. In one short month I will not be doing this barefoot, in shorts and a tank top; and in three months, I won’t be able to do it without a coat – if at all. But that’s one of those things that people in Minnesota take a perverse pride in: We’ll stick by the Vikings, no matter what; we’ll eat bizarre foods on a stick (witness this year’s Chocolate-Covered Bacon on a Stick at this year’s State Fair); and a hundred-degree temperature swing between summer and winter is par for the course.
The beauty of the four seasons. Every summer, I forget what it’s like to be bone-cold, forget what it’s like to think about the blinding blizzards that the pioneers endured, the necessity of the rope run from the house to the barn, clinging to it for dear life. Every winter, I forget what it’s like to be able to sit, outside, bare-footed and bare-headed, the colors green, red, yellow, and blue, right there in my own backyard, the land and sky friendly again.
Fall is coming.