My son Noah is reticent to commit to a family vacation outside the state when it is “nice” in North Dakota. Noah’s “nice”translates to days that are not part of North Dakota’s winter. He figures if he is living with up to six months of cold, ice and snow he needs to appreciate all the “nice” days North Dakota offers in the other three seasons crammed into the remaining six months.
I have to admit, he has a point.
The seasons, as they present themselves in North Dakota, do have a way of transforming the normal appreciation of seasons changing to a heightened event. I think about the way I view the waning days of winter, the mere thought that the cold, ice, and snow are near their end makes me gleeful. I do not experience the same gleeful feeling with the end of the other seasons. Indeed, I am decidedly mournful when winter ushers itself in, particularly if it is in October. If I had any input with Mother Nature, I would carve out four proper months for each season. Winter would be November through February – period.
Alas, Mother Nature does not return my calls. I am left to the current North Dakota reality of what seems like a whole lot of winter and snippets of the other seasons.
But I have been thinking about that quite a bit this summer. I have had a tremendous amount of travel in June and July and have only been home here and there. Each time I have arrived back home I got back out to the garden to tackle my responsibility as the weedmaster and relished in the deliciously long days we have in North Dakota. Then I was off again only to come back to a garden that had grown dramatically in my absence (flowers and weeds). That is an amazing thing about North Dakota, there is no time to waste in our short growing season and the plants seem to know it.
I got to thinking about all the North Dakota summer I have missed thus far and it made me kind of sad. I remember how ecstatic I was when we officially entered spring planting time. I purchased the sign below because it captured my glee.
But the days of sunshine and flowers go quickly in North Dakota and it reminded me of how much more valuable summer and its adjoining seasons are when you know they are a short term commodity. It seems like summer in North Dakota warrants a higher level of savoring than other places with more temperate climate. The summer somehow seems more valuable here because we understand how fleeting it will seem as we once again inch toward winter.
I can say this with greater certainty as a former Californian who experienced winters that averaged in the 50s and growing seasons that seemingly never ended. I didn’t think as much about the seasons, nor did I long for summer (except maybe as a kid because there was no school). You do not miss, or value the same, the things you do not have to learn to go without. they start to be a part of the background.
So, I think Noah is on the right track. Perhaps it is silly to leave North Dakota when it is “nice” given how much time we wait for the “nice” to return. It seems logical to stay home, soak it all in, and hold on to every last day with an appreciation that these days will pass too soon. There is something to be said about being gleeful about the end of winter and the approach of spring, summer, and fall. Because gleeful, in this situation, equates with grateful. So savor the summer and all the delights it offers and embrace the cooler, but colorful days of fall when they arrive. This is the true gift our long winters give us.
Another day in the new forty – obla di obla da