April Snowballs

Our mid-April blizzard (and ensuing school release day; arg!) has melted down to patches of wet, icy snow on Minneapolis’s boulevards. This is the kind of loose snow you can easily scoop and pack that only appears in the spring. Our family after-dinner walks to the lake have naturally turned into moving snowball fights. Sun warms our shoulders, loons dive down at the lake, an occasional heron flies overhead, and we sling snowballs at each other. We reenact the dual between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. We hurl them into the lake. We aim at stop signs. They splat, leaving a wet smear. They soak through our mittens.

I grew up in New York, where spring starts in March. Even after thirty-two years of living in Minnesota, even though I honestly love the winter, I’m tormented by this spell from March through April. My body says “Enough already!” and my mind turns toward the garden. I had planted kale under the cloche and sugar snaps along the back fence just before we were blanketed in ten fresh inches. Suddenly my equanimity toward the cold collapsed. I joined everyone else in the Midwest in griping about the weather.

Today patches of snow linger in the shade while the grass greens fast and the rivers run high. Snowball fights, which for most of the winter aren’t possible because the snow is too cold to pack, are now sheer delight. When my mittens turn soggy the air is warm enough I can tolerate grabbing a fistful of snow with bare hands. Our three-way, traveling snowball fight pauses frequently for other neighbors out on their evening stroll. Everyone smiles.

Here is the flip-side of too many dark, cold days: This glorious, enthusiastic emergence of humans onto our sidewalks and birds into our parks and new life everywhere! We’re all giddy. We can breathe freely again, we can walk outside without guarding our steps, we can propel ourselves long distances safely, we can even comfortably, amazingly, sit! This exultation only comes from weathering winter; it’s a unique gift for having suffered the cold. Those in warmer climes never know this particular mix of relief and anticipation and glory and full-bodied movement. It’s expansive, communal, playful, and I want to take it in until I’m completely soaked.   –Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew


Here are the last two Wisdom Ways Spiritual Memoir drop-in sessions before we break for the summer:

May 10: Childhood, Revisited
June 14: Community and Revision

I’m excited to have an essay included in Queer Voices, an anthology published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.  “Wearing Bifocals” looks at the  queer community’s spiritual potential to see through nondual lenses.  The book launch will be on May 14 from 7-9 p.m. at Open Book, but this is just one of many events celebrating the collection.

Happy spring, everyone!

Leave a Comment