The endless winter we've experienced this year only seems eternal.
Because, now it's March.
Inexorably, the world swings towards a new kind of tilt. Deep within the earth, something happens.
Shoots of light, dainty green uncurl and unfurl, appearing like tiny dots of hope through crusted snow and the sodden leaves and cold rains of last autumn. Soft, fuzzy buds appear on skinny tree-limb branches, faintly quivering in sweet southern breezes that have gently begun to flow through the yard and across my cheek.
I can feel the welcome warmth on my back as I stand and sway and breath deep in the late afternoon sunlight. I hear the steady drip from the eaves; the crack and tumble of new-fallen ice-broke branches and boughs, and the sudden silence that follows.
I can feel it. I can hear it.
It's coming now.
The squirrels are cocky again, replacing their sad January gazes with demanding chirr and chatter.
"Give with the corn, old man. We know you're in there."
The newly arrived robins flutter through a whirling love dance, while winter-long cardinals duck and smile, and gangs of sparrows crowd their advantage as snowpack melts to reveal new bounty.
I swear I can hear geese flying over my house late at night.
Sleds, boots and mittens will soon be entirely replaced by soccer balls, sneakers and baseball fever, as my grandsons fill our home and lives with their busy days and nights. I doze and dream of tents and other outdoor trappings. Of road maps and roadtrips and backroads and bonfires after dark.
We plan. We pause. We smile. We simply imagine.
Dawn grows brighter, day after day, while the orange-gold glow of long afternoons begins to change the rhythm and spin of our fine lives.
And we like it.
We like the first glimpses of new life and springtime hope.
We like the change in light, in color, and in temperature, as those first balmy breezes battle against the last cold blasts of stubborn wintertime.
We view the oh-so-subtle changes in the rolling fields around us.
We gently ooh and aah as blooms begin to sprout; as the tulips begin to awake from a long winter's sleep and bluebells, violets and scilla spatter yards and garden plots with bright bits of happy color.
We listen and ask questions of our farmer friends as they prepare for another year spent feeding the world.
We watch the children in the park as they shout and run and play and play some more in a warm new world of fun and sunshine.
We even like the work we do, as we rake and pile and haul and burn last year's leftovers, making way for the bright new days to come.
There are no guarantees, we know, as an early spring can disappear quickly when winter decides it's not quite done with us.
But we know, in the end, it's gotta come.
Gotta come soon.
Because out of the darkness of winter comes the great light of springtime. And in that light comes wondrous hope and the onrushing joy of a sweet new season.