In Anticipation of Spring
5 unscientific signs spring is near:
Steam’s rising from the Heritage House
Sightings of predominantly brown Woolly Bears are on the rise
All traces of Christmas have been removed from the Square
The Nest is displaying garden themed home decor
It’s been rainy
Last week as my family and I were walking our dog my youngest daughter excitedly pointed out the fuzzy buds* of the magnolia tree on the southeast corner of the Square. This got me excited, too. It’s our first winter in Chardon. I’m so ready for spring. Sure, roll your eyes. I know it’s been mild. I’ve read the electronic sign.
“I love every season,” I announce on the first pleasant fall day. It’s a common refrain that I could never be happy living in a place that doesn’t experience all the seasons. That is, until mid-winter when I begin fantasizing about migrating south; mosquitos, humidity and pit stains be damned. I find myself reminiscing about our time in Moab, Utah, of the red sand, yucca, dust storms, the dry heat, Jeeps. Yesterday I overheard a conversation about someone’s recent trip to Las Vegas, a city I don’t enjoy in the least, yet I was momentarily overcome with jealousy. Upon reflection maybe it’s not the seasons I love so much as the change of them.
Every conversation these days is an excuse to bring up the weather. When the sun pops out I text my friends sunshine emoticons and equally bright commentary on the day. When it’s overcast, at best I text no one and at worst complain bitterly. I really want to go outside and yet I absolutely do not want to go outside. Instead I watch my kids play in the snow from my kitchen window while sipping hot tea. I workout indoors, try to avoid eye contact with my dog and spell the word ‘walk’ because he can understand what I say but he’s a terrible speller. Were I a hardy Chardonite perhaps I’d take the negative temperatures, gusty winds and heavy, wet snow in stride. My fair-weather attitude is very likely an indication that I am not ‘one of you’. Yet.
My spirits, buoyed of late by sporadic sun, streams of melting snow, rain and the predictions of a groundhog, I’ve decided the change of seasons is in full swing. To commemorate the occasion last Wednesday I challenged myself to get outside and walk - everywhere, all day, no car - at least 10 miles. Yes, that was me you dodged on the shoulder of South Street in the pouring rain under a hideous, hand-me-down golf umbrella the size of a small planet looking vaguely reminiscent of the Unabomber in my hooded coat. If you build it they will come.
As much as I wish for consistently warmer weather all this freeze-thaw action sure does keep things interesting. I try to remind myself the anticipation of spring is fun - window shopping Easter decorations, monitoring the hopeful green shoots of a plant whose name I don’t know (the one plant in our garden our dog hasn’t been marking all winter), dreaming of crisp white sheets billowing in a light breeze as they’re dried by the sun. Does anyone actually do this? My fantasy self swears by it.
Research suggests we tend to feel more powerful emotions when thinking about future experiences, an upcoming vacation for instance, as compared to reminiscing about an experience in the past and that the anticipation of an event can often times prove more rewarding than the event itself. This explains why the pecan pie I dreamt of all November long while performing the aforementioned workouts could never taste as good as I’d imagined. Don’t get me wrong, I still ate three slices. I’m nothing if not optimistic.
Try as I might no action, planning, whining, wishing or even praying will rush Mother Nature. Even if I could control time would I really want to fast forward through a month of my life? Two months, you say? Hell no. Although I typically struggle to rebound from unmet expectations this is one case where I’m assured satisfaction. Spring will come, eventually. And since I enjoy spring, when it does arrive I know my experience will be positive. Thus, the waiting is not only tolerable but with the right attitude it can be pleasurable. Anticipation may well just be a dressed up form of waiting but at least it’s an active one. It feels hopeful, positive, expectant, and purposeful whereas waiting can feel stressful, negative, passive and wasteful. Whether we anticipate or just plain old wait is up to us. It’s a daily choice to reframe the mundane as extraordinary.
While anticipating answers to big life questions may be stress inducing to the point of exasperation, it’s widely understood that anticipating an experience is a good thing. It makes waiting enjoyable, leads to greater satisfaction in life and a greater sense of well-being. It’s as true for kids as is it for adults. You want some advice? Whatever it is, visualize it, plan it and talk about it. Anticipate that vacation by dragging the suitcases up from the basement - do it now, I’ll wait. Dog ear the pages of a travel book or better yet read a novel set in your destination. Create a special meal of the foods you expect to eat on your trip whether it’s empanadas or hot dogs and s’mores. And, hey while you’re at it go ahead and buy the bathing suit one size too small.
5 tips for anticipating spring:
Grow a plant indoors
Embrace a new rule: If the kids can go outdoors for recess so can my dog and so can I
Hang a spring wreath on the front door
Spring clean something, anything - the expired jelly on the fridge door is a good a place to start
Add Maple Festival to the calendar with a reminder notification a month in advance then two weeks, one week and so on - April 25-28, 2019
BONUS: Buy tickets to an Indians game - on sale March 6
What are you waiting for?
By the way, in addition to spring I’m eagerly anticipating what/who will go into the recently renovated storefronts uptown. Reply with a comment if you have any inside scoop.
*As it turns out the fuzzy buds aren’t actually a sign of spring, more like the magnolia’s winter sweater to protect its buds. Still…