25 April 2013

Slowly But Surely

Summer is coming.

To be perfectly honest, there are days I don't believe that. Days when we wake up to more cold and snow and grey skies, and I just want to groan and pull the covers back up over my head. Days when nothing can convince me that the driveway will eventually be free of ice, that the drifts of snow will melt, that my little strip of entryway will not be cluttered up with hulking, dripping boots. We will never see summer again. Why can't they be right about global warming?

But summer is coming. And even now, today, as last night's snowfall melts away, it is rushing closer. The sun is blazing down from a brilliant blue sky, while songbirds chase each other through the chokecherries and chilly-fingered breezes tousle the windchimes outside our bedroom window. The snow banks are melting, slowly, making great lakes of the neighborhood streets: Matt says he feels like a true jeep owner, splashing through the foot-deep, twenty-yard-long puddles on his way home from work. The thermometer is slowly rising, two steps forward, one step back. Every day may not be warmer than the last, but each week is, at least a bit.

And the pretty days, when we have them, are beautiful. Tuesday afternoon Little Bear and I went for a walk with a friend, drinking in the sunshine as we splashed our way around a three-mile loop. Such sun we have here! We are well on our way to 'round-the-clock sunshine, with light streaming in the windows from the time we wake up until long past Little Bear's bedtime. What do I have to complain about?

The waiting, I suppose. Winter seems to stretch on forever, some days, and I just don't like to wait. I don't mean to say that this excuses my impatience, but I am human. Perhaps that means these never-ending winters are good for me... The culture of instant gratification teaches us that we can have--should have--everything we want right now, and Alaskan winters are a stark reminder that it simply isn't true. That some things, good things, only come with time. And they are worth waiting for. And maybe, even, that waiting itself is a good thing.

Summer will come, eventually. Winter will slowly give up its grip on the northlands, receding back to its glacial fastnesses among the highest mountains. And when it does, I, being a perverse human being, will want to chase after it up those selfsame mountain slopes and revel in the presence of sparkling snowfields on a sweltering summer day. Not out of impatience for winter's return, but of joy in the glorious paradox of summer in Alaska. Blazing sun at midnight. The barren tundra carpeted in flowers. Exploring ancient, unmelting ice without becoming cold. Our summers are wonderful, beautiful, good, but you cannot have an Alaskan summer without first waiting through the long, dark night of winter. The waiting is difficult, but every year, we remember that the summer is worth the wait.

But what about now, this season others know as "spring" and we as "breakup"? It is a necessary part of the waiting-for-summer, but sometimes the slow progress or backsliding toward winter can make the season more a frustration than anything. For me, this year, I've found that whether these days are frustrating is really up to me. When I begin my morning by giving thanks for the sunshine and make a point of focusing on the little signs that we are truly getting closer to summer, breakup seems like a positive time; when I don't put in that effort, well, it can seem like winter will stretch on for eternity.

It takes practice to turn waiting from something frustrating to something productive. The Church knows this: every year, we spend four weeks waiting for Christmas and six for Easter. I guess that means our extra-long winter and slow breakup this year are a blessing, inasmuch as they are giving us more time to hone our skills.

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful post! I know that we don't have to wait as long as you do for warmer weather, but we're still having snow, (and rain, rain, and more rain!) while the rest of the country seems to be enjoying spring. I guess I got spoiled by those four years in Ohio. But June is only a month away and by then the snow will be done! (Right?)