Ian arrived home on leave along with the warm weather. Life is feeling pretty great.
The thing about spring in the Midwest is that it feels like a miracle. Winter can have some nice moments; falling snow is beautiful, sledding is fun, the glee with which Mona makes snow angels alone makes it worth living here. But winter in Milwaukee is long, and most of the fun requires you not have to get anywhere in particular. Bundling everyone up loses its charm months into getting everyone out the door for school on time. Winter means obstacles in the landscape. Snow plows create barriers along the edges of the streets. Some days it’s a struggle to take out the trash. Waiting for the kids outside of the school at the pickup sometimes feels like torture.
But the first really warm day makes you feel alive in a way you nearly forgot you could. I stepped outside without a jacket and the world was welcoming. Spring feels both new and familiar at the same time. It’s like being released from captivity, and you’re happy to just be. I stood outside my violin store yesterday and enjoyed the sense that the world was large, and not just the size of whatever room I was in. My kids keep pointing out that there are buds on everything, and plants are pushing up through the ground everywhere you look. We watched a worm for half an hour on our sidewalk and followed ladybugs around the playground. To step outside and have the breeze touch your face as if it’s friendly and not an assault makes you see everything differently.
I wish it weren’t true that you need contrast to really appreciate some things in life, but I learn that again every spring. There is a muddy, ugly transition period through most of March, where somehow everything thaws but it’s still cold. All the trash that had been trapped in snowbanks is littered all over the neighborhood, and the salt residue from the streets makes everything dingy. But just when you start to lose hope while trudging along from one errand to another, the temperature gets warm. Everyone wants to be outside and all the yards get attention and the trash disappears. The birds are back and there is music all around us.
That’s what it’s like having Ian home. We don’t get to keep him for very long, but to be reminded even for just a little while of what our lives as a complete family are supposed to feel like is wonderful. There is a muddy transition period that isn’t easy, but being in his arms again is warm. The only good part about being separated for so long is getting to appreciate how lucky we are anew when we’re back together. Even if this particular part of spring will only last a couple of weeks, we know to appreciate it that much more.