By February my family really understands how that groundhog feels. We’ve been stuck in our dark lair for four months and we come above ground to see if the sun is out. But it never is. Not in February. Not in Michigan.
But what a glorious March we have had so far!
We are always shocked and distrustful when spring comes along. We had begun to believe that it would always be deathly dark when the alarm went off in the morning, and when we emerged from our ballet studio at 6 p.m. The sun, shining somewhere above all those clouds, would never honor us again with its warm, cheering presence. The dreary days would never leave. The frenetic play dates at the park and languid days at the pool would never return.
And then, suddenly, a few weeks ago, the sun came back. So unfamiliar was that yellow ball in the sky, we didn’t trust all the evidence of spring around us. My girls came stomping out of their elementary school each afternoon dressed in boots and snow pants, even though it was 60 degrees. I drove my car to take them home and protect them from the harsh winter weather, even though the sun was shining and the air was filled with barking geese, newly returned from their winter resorts.
In spring, we Michiganders learn to live and to trust again!
The girls stopped bringing their snow pants to school, as their teachers, ever the weather cynics, would make them "wear ‘em if they had ‘em." I started walking to school to pick up the girls, finally tossing off my winter coat and grabbing a jacket.
Walking down the street to school, I can listen to one last song on my iPod – my last chance to have my thoughts, music and world to myself, before the storm that is the girls, drag my day back into pleasant chaos.
On sunny warm days when I walk them home, they merrily ignore me and chatter excitedly with their friends. Well, that is unless Suzi sees a bee enjoying the sunshine and she runs back to me for protection, pretending she’s my best buddy again.
If I drive, the girls toss me their backpacks to ferry home while they savor the blue skies and broiling sun, checking to see if any goslings have been born in the little pond next to our school. You can see how free they feel – free from their mittens, scarves, boots and free from the cold that makes us all hide indoors.
Even the advent of Daylight Savings Time doesn’t damper our spirits. Sure we miss an hour and it’s dark for a few more weeks when we wake up. But having the sun up until 8 o’clock brings time and vitality back to our lives we never thought we’d see again.
Gone are the endless days of indoor skirmishes over video games, TV and toys they’ve grown weary of. Now it’s about bicycles, friends in the neighborhood and even thinking about heading to the ice cream store.
And this week I finally heard those words that are magic to my ears – "Mom, I’m gonna go play outside!"