But today it is so, so wet, and I've never been happier to meet a puddle. To slosh through puddle after puddle, to feel the drip of melting ice on my head as we pass under doorways, to hear the gentle spray on the wheels as the car glides through a puddle that was only days ago a sheet of ice.
This winter there was little play in the snow. This year, like a nasty guard dog, the wind would bite and yowl if you tried. It snowed and snowed and piled and piled. By the time the temperature got warm enough to challenge the wind, it was almost too deep for sledding, but just right for disappearing. Snow angels and snow men were buried alive. Today we finally saw the top of our snowman's hat again. Maybe tomorrow we'll see the top of his bikini.
Today for the first time in months we delight in the splash we feel beneath our feet. Our boots are off, our shoes are on, our toes feel light and wiggly. Coats are on, but hats, scarves and mittens are sitting in their boxes at home on the shelf. And the sun is so full, so bright, so hopeful, I want a giant straw to slurp it up.
This year, I would tell people winter in Minneapolis isn't just bad; it's brutal. It bites you when you step outside. Bites you hardest on the little parts, the fingers and toes. When it's that cold, -45, -55, the blood just freezes, stiffens, stops flowing, stops creating movement. Everything wet, hardens. Boogers, moisture in the skin. A chap sets in, a thirsty chap. Everything is hard, crunchy. Beautiful, but painful. Sparkly, but lonely. No one leaves, no one visits. I hesitate to even put the garbage out, get the mail, return a library book, knowing it will take a while to recover from even a short blast.
And Minnesota was not alone. The Polar Vortex dipped deep and North and South both got a taste for the sting of the arctic. We tried not to be crabby, but we were crabby. Five degrees or -10 degrees--at a certain point, when the wind chews your face off, cold is just cold.
And yet, Minnesotans were still out in it. Still Polar Dashing, Polar Plunging, Polar picnicking, the beer frozen solid in their cups. Trying to keep living despite the fact that everything around us was dead.
But today the payoff is here. The world is covered in dark, dirty, sloshy snow. Pick up your pants and don't drop anything. It's gross out there, a pool of dark water all around, piles of black snow lurking in the periphery, still no real place to play.
And yet, if you look down to save your shoes, to step over and around, you'll notice your own reflection, something that can only occur when there is light.
You'll notice the ice speckled with holes filling with water, something that can only happen when there is heat.
You'll notice a gradual filling up as you reach for your sunglasses and turn up toward the sky, something that can only occur when there is...gratitude.
Gratitude for sunshine, birds, and puddles that stain your pants.
Gratitude for green beneath white.
Gratitude for thaw, for movement, for breathing deep, and walking without footprints.
Gratitude not just for living in the light...but for rising from the dead.