Spring is on its way. I feel sure of that, because it always comes. It must, because that’s what it does. I never really thought about spring so much until I came to Wisconsin. Where I came from, spring was just an extension of winter. Southern Missouri has fairly mild winters with spring beginning to show herself about the first part of February. I used to plant potatoes around St. Patrick’s Day when I lived there. Easter Lilies are in full force by Mid-March.
My first winter in Wisconsin freaked me out. I remember it snowed in October and didn’t melt until May that year. I had only experienced winter as a minor three-month cold snap, so to say I was uninitiated was no exaggeration. But I got hip pretty quickly. I bought all the necessary clothing and hunkered down.
I tried to enjoy the winter hiking and such, but the first time the skin on my face cracked, I stopped walking the trails in the snow. Now I only go outside to go from one controlled environment to the other, house to car to house etc.
All my friends say I should learn to love the out-of-doors in winter, but I don’t like being outside in warm weather so why should I learn to do so in sub-zero temps? I have spent most of my life figuring out how to not be exposed to the elements. I’m too pale and too much of a house cat to be unprotected in any season winter or summer, and yes, I do know about sunscreen.
Don’t feel sorry for me. To each her own, I say. I love my books and music and snuggling down with my cat and my husband in all kinds of weather, happily oblivious to the elements of climate. So, ‘why’, you may ask, do I care what season it is? One reason only. Because spring brings all my seasonal friends back to Wisconsin.
All the snow birds come flying home from parts south, both human and fowl. My business picks up and I thrive on the good company and stories of adventure from them. I get a vicarious thrill from your travels and exploits. I have my own feats of strength to report too. Keeping my head in lean times, and finding solace in my art for one.
For instance, the planets seemed aligned for me to be practicing music again. I haven’t picked up my dulcimer or learned a new lyric, never mind performed, in several years. This winter I was invited to sing with my daughter in a one-night performance locally and since I had to ‘get in shape’ for that I just kept on rehearsing, and adding to my rusty repertoire, and I must tell you, I’m diggin’ it!
No snow shoeing for me thank you very much. I wish you the best of luck in your sports and winter activities as I while away the hours in sweet repose in my warm cocoon, singing my songs and reading poetry and sleeping.
Meanwhile, at the gallery, I have renovated my wearable art department and enlarged the dressing room. It’s what I’ve envisioned for some time and I’m so happy to have had the chance this season to finally realize that vision.
I just returned from the American Handcrafted Show in Philadelphia, PA and bought a lot of very cool art and craft. I have finished several new paintings and I just can’t wait for you all to get yourselves back to Spooner, Wisconsin and visit me. If you’re already here, by all means won’t you come see me?
Here’s a poem I wrote many years ago called ‘Spring Will Come Momcat”.
When I was a kid, we oftentimes were deep in the throes of poverty. This poem is about one of those times.
My dad was a shade tree mechanic and he owned a small garage where he eked out a very small living. I often missed school for lack of proper winter gear and shoes, and my siblings and I were forced to huddle all five in a bed for warmth. In spite of its mild winters, the Ozarks can be a harsh place when you’re poor.
These times are part of my history, part of the reason for any strength or courage I have, and a large part of who I have become spiritually and creatively. I cherish those times and embrace them as such. This is not a poem of sadness or a time I’m bitter about. It’s meant to be a poem of courage and optimism. I hope you’ll see it that way too.
Spring Will Come, Momcat
Small clouds of breath times five.
My nose so cold I can’t feel it running.
Little bony knees and elbows poking,
hoping we can stand the crushing boredom
for a few more hours. I’m the eldest.
It’s my job to tell stories.
We’re packed like sardines in one bed
trying to keep warm. We survive;
we have hope; this is America.
I haven’t been to school in a week.
Someone comes knocking.
We hold our breath; they’ll go away.
Spring will come. I’ll catch up;
It’ll be okay; Spring will come.
When she comes, Mom brings us penny
candy in lieu of supper.
She’s like a cat with her hidden
brood born out of season.
Understand, it’s only instinct
that brings her back. It’s beyond love.
It’s pure proclivity.
Shame is her intimate, and with tender
affection, it engulfs her.
Baby reaches dimpled arms with
the power to persuade. Momcat, smiling
says, “Spring will come.”