When a thaw comes up from the Gulf, it always shatters my cold-weather cabin fever. Thaws crack and dismantle the dark cataract of winter across my vision. Thaws call up childhood and value longings, whisper some ancient truth.
I remember one year after a great thaw. I must have been only six or seven years old. I pulled on my rubber boots and went wading in a flooded vacant lot near our house. I looked for fish that could not possibly have been there, and I felt happy in the clear spring-like wetland.
I remember another year – I was walking home from school. The sun had been shining and tall piles of snow were dissolving. A brook of snowmelt ran down the blacktop toward me, and I felt an excitement and a sense of freedom that I have never forgotten.
Will I out grow my childlike love of thaws, or is it something so primal that even sickness and age cannot suppress it? Even when the future narrows, what is the promise of ice melt? Nameless and visceral, it cannot be held hostage by words or knowledge, by impossibility or by physical limits. Within the window of thaws, promise outraces and preempts all of the limits of seasons. The deep memory of the receding snow intuits and cradles a pure and abiding longing, as though the limits of time and space were only porous atoms to be effortlessly pierced by desire.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fifth week of early spring. In the meantime, put on your boots. Play in the puddles.