Spring in Minnesota comes in fits and starts. One day is glorious and sunny, causing you to scramble through your children’s dressers for short sleeved shirts that still fit. Then the next day it snows. The snow surprises no one and though people may grumble we seem to accept that this is part of what you sign up for when you live here. It is nearly the end of April and I’m still not quite confident enough that spring is really here to put away the snow pants and boots just yet.
But the signs of spring are growing more apparent. The grass in my yard is starting to grow. Mystery chives (when did I plant chives?) have sprouted up in my garden, along with some weeds that I need to pull before I move my seedlings from the house to outside. Despite the promise of much rain this week, I’ve pulled my hammock from the garage and have had one glorious afternoon of hammock reading time so far. We’ve started having to bathe the children almost nightly as afternoons of outdoor play lead to dirt streaked faces and feet that are black on the bottom (neither of my children can seem to keep their shoes on outside).
Our neighborhood really started to come alive this month. After months of hibernation, the children are finally free to play outside and so they do, for hours at a time. They form little packs and move from backyard to backyard. The parents sometimes sit on a porch and loosely supervise but we all mostly let them have some freedom to roam. Sometimes I sit on my covered porch with a book and listen to the sound of them play and I remind myself not to interfere when the inevitable squabbles breakout. I am both on part too lazy to want to get off my porch couch and one part determined that kids should have time in what my husband calls “kid world”, the space where grown-ups don’t get involved and kids learn to sort things out for themselves. This works until someone comes crying into the house because of hurt feelings or scrapped knees. Then kisses and Band-Aids are dispensed and I can blessedly return to my book.
This is the first spring in years that I’m not in school. Though I think of myself as a writer-ish person, I’m not quite sure I have yet figured out how to best describe how great it feels to not have the weight and worry and guilt of grad school off my shoulders. I feel an internal lightness. I’m also beginning to remember how much I love to read for pleasure. In the 25 days since I defended my dissertation I’ve read four magazines and five books. I have big plans for doing a lot of quietly sitting on my porch reading more this spring.
I think this feeling is contentment. I’m a fan.