As we reach the end of February and the days begin getting longer, I feel my spirits start to lift.  As I walk or run with my dog each day I can feel “hope spring eternal”.  Were I to acknowledge the extent of my despair about the dark days of winter while they are actually occurring, I would not get through.  So I do not. It is only with the extension o f the light, and as my little heart starts to flutter, that the depth of my denial is safely revealed, made apparent by the sense of relief that begins to creep over me.  Yes, yes, I’ve made it through another winter.

Soon I will be digging in the dirt and pruning rosebushes.  There is something so satisfying about trimming away the dead wood left by winter.  The purpose of winter I have come to believe is to “thin the herd”.  Those creatures that have survived are a tough bunch.  There will always be one or two rose bushes that don’t make it to spring and will be mercilessly replaced by a heartier variety.  Survival of the fittest is alive and well and practiced without shame by many perennial garden growers in Michigan. 

Once the roses are pruned and fed, cut back to their signs of life and re-nourished, there is the time of waiting.  It is a waiting for the moment that makes living in southern Michigan worth all the while.  Some time round the 17th of June, the roses bloom and the  sun hangs round here till after 9 PM drenching my prized southwestern colored rose garden in a light that causes it to seem to glow.  I look and look at that light and those colors, trying to comprehend how the moment can exist.  I am reminded of summers in my childhood, coming in from the barn, walking across the lawn, dirty, tired, fulfilled, from a day of riding horses.  The light over the house, the trees and the fields creating a moment of immense satisfaction.  It’s the same light that sets my dessert colored rose garden ablaze

Summer is the reason we stay here in Michigan.  With summer comes amnesia in regards to winter.  On June 17th winter seems as harmless and faraway as tax season, after tax season.  Summer, on June 17th lasts forever, like the days, like the light.  Summer exposes our flesh, browns our skin and lets our feet stretch out into the bliss of non covered toe shoes.  Summer seems to last until September round here.  And even in October the light is still so glorious, until just around the end, and the switch is so fast, and catches us so off guard, that at the very moment we become aware of what is just round the corner, we also realize it is too late to enact the resolve made last November, that never again, would we spend another winter here.

But I did.  It’s not spring yet, but it will be soon, and I’ve survived another Michigan winter. 



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Jennifer Jean Smith: Your Guitar or Your Saddle