A Taste of Spring

8421004210_a5bd3ff53fPhoto credit “Winter Fragility”

The surprising warmth in January brings flies buzzing around lamps again, neighbor boys playing basketball all day in the street while wearing shorts, and a backyard so soaked with melted snow it’s now an oozing brown sponge.

One week ago, this was our reality amidst negative temperatures:

P1020801 (2)

As super fun as snow is to an energetic puppy, we all welcomed the reprieve from the frozen world.

In Portland, a surprisingly sunny day (of course all sunny days are surprises there) brings the entire city outside. You’ve never really experienced communal joy until you’ve walked along a path in a Portland park on a sunny–or even partly cloudy–day in February or March. When you don’t see the sun for weeks on end, you never take it for granted. The entire city lives by that motto, which makes you swear that all one-million people in the metro area are at the same park you are on that sunny day.

Here in the middle of the country, we tend to take the sun for granted. It’s blindingly sunny almost every day all winter long, with the sun deceiving you from the frigid temperatures.

But every once in a while, the thermometer offers a little more mercy, and the coats are hung in the closet for a few hours. Midwesterners don’t have the same carpe diem sense that Portlanders do on these blessed days, but if you look hard enough, you’ll find a few grateful weather-enjoyers.

The kids always seem to catch on first, riding their bikes outside, pretending it’s not January. Some grownups take advantage of some time to rake some forgotten leaves. And if you head to a dog park, you’ll have to park outside the overflown parking lot in the street, and dozens of four-legged friends will chase you around and around until you’re foaming at the mouth and dripping with mud–if you’re four-legged as well, that is.

20140112_150808

With a face like that one, you can imagine that Indie won us over and got to spend the sunny, 60+ degree Sunday at his favorite park. He chased around the perimeter of the park again and again, forgetting that at least two more months of winter still lay ahead of us.

Meanwhile, I followed suit and embraced the joy of the unexpected gift.

One warm winter day at a time, I’ll do my best to teach these Midwesterners about the potential of a surprising day.