One early spring morning, probably in 1991 or ’92, as I drove to school, I was feeling really down about the seemingly interminable winters in western New York. Probably also feeling that my career in teaching seemed interminable also, sort of like spinning my wheels in the muck of an early spring snowstorm. And the closing line from Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind” came to mind: “O, Wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”
Maybe it’s because I’m a golfer. Maybe it’s because I’m a normal human being who values the gold of the sun more than the pewter-gray of rain-swollen clouds. I don’t know. In any case, I dislike that much too much too long time between winter and spring, between mid-February and mid-April . . . between the weariness of winter’s inactivity and the joy of spring’s springiness.
Late February, early March—western New York along Lake Erie (good name for a lake in this part of the world—Erie, eerie, weary, bleary). The sun shines rarely enough in western New York, even in the summer. But in that too loooong time between winter and spring, it seems like it never shows itself.
Day breaks (or does it only crack?) at 7:00 a.m. and the light climbs through dismal rain or damp snowflakes. I drive to work with headlights on and windshield wipers slapping to and fro. In the gray of morning, the roadsides reveal, dirty gray snow and in the ditches brown, red, gray weeds and bushes bowed down by winter. The maple and birch trees are black streaks against the rising eastern sky, still leafless, the branches still blank and lifeless. An occasional pine points greenly skyward. A crow flaps tiredly across the highway to land on leafless apple tree on the first hole of Sunset Valley, a short par-3 course just before I get to school. The bird must be as winter weary as I am, and he watches me go by almost as if to say, “Caawww! Caawww! Maybe next year I can talk the missus into heading down to Arizona!”
I hear him, and I echo the sentiment.