BRUGGER: Thoughts from a snowless sand dune

Feb 23, 2012


If ever there was a moment for me to accept that I am powerless to control the ebb and flow of nature, it is now. No amount of shaking my figure at the tiny green shoots, admonishing them to reverse course, will change anything. I can’t dress them in down jackets and wool caps.

My soul, much like the bulbs buried in the earth, has not incubated fully this winter.

Like my grandchildren, I anticipated snow falling for Christmas. Snowfall triggers waves of nostalgia when Andy Williams sings “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” I missed that crescendo of excitement.

We went sliding at Pigeon Creek one Saturday, when the snowfall was deep enough to groom cross-country trails and sleds and saucers slicked down the hills.

We had someone take our picture before we went into the lodge for hot chocolate, all bundled up in our winter-ware, snowflakes still sifting over us.

I posted the image on my screensaver; otherwise, I might not remember we had winter at all.

On the bright side, the beach has been good for walking the dog. We haven’t shoveled; we’ve waited a day for natural snow removal: melt by sun and warming temperatures. It’s easier to push a grocery cart to my car without snow and shopping of any kind is less sloppy. I expect my utility bills to be less-worse than anticipated.

If only I had known that winter was going to be mild, and even sunny, I would have made more plans to enjoy it. As it is, I was waiting for average to arrive, and I was disappointed when it was a no-show.

I recognized the beautiful woman who walked into the bookstore the other day. Her husband passed away over the Christmas season. An unexpected diagnosis had come after Thanksgiving, and his life was cut short only a few weeks later. A year before this, a son had taken his own life — unspeakable losses.

Her arrival caught my thoughts red-handed, throwing pots and pans in the kitchen of my emotions. I had been ruminating about my marriage. Annoyances and petty troubles ran unfettered through my mind: “He should have …! Why couldn’t we …?”

And then, she stood before me. Smiling.

God speaks in a very loud voice sometimes.

What this woman would not have given for the privilege of finding, once more, her husband had left the toilet seat up or forgotten to put his dishes in the dishwasher. She’d swoon over the smell of his dirty socks in the laundry basket. And Valentine’s Day: Where was her valentine?

Let’s call this a middle-winter, one that never really got started, and hasn’t finished with us yet.

The sign posted by the city on the sidewalk above the beach says: “This walk will not be maintained from Nov. 1 through April 1.” That is five months of not maintaining. I may have stopped maintaining my joy for a few weeks, but I’m not going to waste another second.

There are people dying in Romania from a harsh winter, and there are people dying in my hometown though the season is mild. Yet daffodils are coming up — they’re actually appearing where there was frozen ground. What a promise of good things to come today.

Shake off your preponderance of all things orderly. In fact, do not accept average. Marvel at the mystery of unusual jet streams and sand on your shoes in January. It is all good.

— By Ann Brugger, Tribune community columnist


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