The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 13, 2014

Spring softens steeled nerves

Harsh winter makes spring nuances more enjoyable

If author Sherrily Kenyon is correct that the strongest steel is forged by the fires of hell then we emerge from this winter made of tungsten.

Of course, the streng ththrough adversity thing only goes so far and we were pushed to our limits

We have, justly, spent the past months inventing new and colorful language to measure our despair — from "polar vortex" to words unsuitable here.

But if a grim winter holds any benefit, it is the heightened enjoyment of the nuances of spring.

The first day of seeing our street clear of ice from curb to curb brought an embarrassing exhilaration for asphalt — a glorious, wide ribbon of blacktop, even covered as it was with remnants of winter grime, branches and leaves.

The dog is clearly happier. It was sad watching him bound after a squirrel in late winter, only to see him bog down in heavy snow. Now he can easily make his always futile attempts to land prey.

Just walking across the yard each day, feeling for the bounce that signals the ice is beginning to leave and guessing the day the pooled water on the lawn will percolate away as the frost-free soil goes deeper is a pleasant distraction.

The tea rose, whose roots were partly dug up last fall and the plant pushed over into a trench, covered with soil — the "Minnesota Tip" necessary to protect the delicate but aromatic roses — is dug up with a fork and placed upright. It's dirty, but the stem's still brightly lime green thanks to its insulated winter bed.

Even it seemed to sigh as it was hosed off and began to feel the sunlight.

A stubborn wad of ice is still holding in the shady edge of the pond, but soon it can be refilled, the pump pushing water up to the waterfall to create melodic sounds as the big goldfish and colorful shubunkins find freedom from the aquarium.

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