Why We Pretend There is Spring In Northern New York
Albert Camus, a French author and philosopher, once made the following observation: “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
A beautiful thought.
But then again, Camus did not live in Northern New York, where the snow keeps on falling and the winter just keeps getting deeper. Wasn’t it just a few days ago that the weatherman predicted a warm weekend? And by warm, I mean 45-50 degrees? It was with great trust and a warm spirit that I headed off to a college visit with nary an UGG boot in my Durango. Just me and my sperries, slip sliding all over the Ithaca campus. I know, it was careless of me. After all, it is only March 30.
I politely declined the offer of a campus tour after I witnessed 3-4 parents wipe out trying to get to their car.
But if Camus can encourage us to look past the winter to find the inner summer, we should try. Let’s remember that Camus was an Absurdist at best, an Existentialist at worse. Those are the guys who question the entire purpose of our existence in a random and absurd world, so if Camus can be optimistic about winter, well then we can, too!
After all, isn’t it optimism that brings us into department stores every “spring,” to buy adorable Easter dresses and bonnets for our little girls? I have three girls, and I did it every year. Oh, I would curl their hair, shove those chubby legs into white tights and top it all off with a straw hat. Then, I’d set them all up by the roaring fire to get a picture of them before we broke out the snow pants and ski jackets and fired up the Polaris sleds to get to Church. If that’s not optimism, I don’t know what is!
Heck, we don’t let a little snow stop us from the annual Easter egg hunt, either. It’s kind of easy to see the brightly colored eggs in the snow, but if you make the kids wear snow shoes, it adds a different dimension to the challenge.
And how about those crocuses and tulips we plant every year? Yup, every year they peak their innocent heads up out of a snow mound when Mother Nature pulls her little practical joke and sends us a 60 degree day before she hits us with another ice storm. Come to think of it, why do we do that? It’s a little sadistic. Those crocuses don’t have a chance in hell.
But we are a tough people. You think a wind chill warning will stop our girl scouts from their cookie duty? I think not. Although to be fair, we are kind of wimps about heat. Once the thermometer hits 75, everyone around here is putting in a pool. We can only use it for about 3-4 weeks, and we have to put in a heater so we can actually get into it without getting hypothermia, but we are a cold blooded people and overheat easily, so pools and air conditioners are a must.
Then, as the days bring March to a freezing end, we look out onto our decks at our ice covered pool and we remember. We remember that 3-4 week period in July when it was….well, not cold.
That, my friends, is what we cling to.
And so, we will chip the ice off the window sill and stuff some plastic flowers in the window boxes. We will hang wreaths of spring flowers on the door. We will put our winter clothes away too early. We are a hopeful people and we will make a spring if we can’t get one any other way!
And as for the weatherman? Well, if he can’t take a few snowballs to the chest, then he’s just being a pansy.
We were just being playful, after all.
Featured Image: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-kpzKQ0lCRec/TZUMRb-RxEI/AAAAAAAAAXk/-057eE96GgU/s1600/IMG_2626.jpg