Saturday, March 30, 2013

Desperately seeking spring

What happened to spring? Minnesotans want to know, and you can't really blame us.

The photos on this page were taken on March 24 last year. Thanks to a record-setting warm March, crocuses and bleeding hearts were emerging by St. Patrick's Day and azaleas were leafing out with abandon. By contrast, March 2013 has been colder than normal. We still have snow on the roof, a foot or two of gritty snow slowly melting all across the yard, and absolutely no signs of emerging plant life.

Minnesotans don't expect great weather to last, or to repeat itself. A typical reaction to a mild winter: "We'll pay the price next year." Still, life conspires to get our hopes up about spring. For starters, it seems that we naturally crave spring's promise of warmth, new beginnings, the upswing in the cycle of life. But there are plenty of other prompts.

Let's start with Punxatawney Phil and those old guys in top hats who speak of six more weeks of winter as if that were a worst-case scenario. We know better than to believe such a thing (2012 notwithstanding), but the annual Groundhog's Day chatter gets us thinking spring months too early.

The beginning of Daylight Savings Time seems another harbinger of spring. Frankly, it's always a pleasant surprise, in those those first few days after turning our clocks ahead, to find that it's still light at 5:30 p.m. It reminds us of the promise of our long summer evenings, when it stays light until 9:30. But those evenings are still far off...and more so since DST begins weeks earlier than it used to.

Then there's the official "first day of spring," the vernal equinox. I seem to recall that it was snowing and about 20 degrees this year.

Growing up, I always equated Easter with spring, and with wearing a spring outfit to church. Year after year, I had to cover my new pink dress with my winter coat, and leave the cute straw hat at home. This year we've been told to expect snow flurries Saturday night, and Sunday highs in the 30s with gusty winds.

Okay, so none of those events can be counted on to get spring underway. Certainly the opening day of major league baseball will do it, no? No. The Minnesota Twins are due to play their opener at home, in an open-air stadium, with a predicted high of 33 degrees and continued strong winds. Brrr.

So with promises and false hopes all around us, there's nothing to do but create spring for ourselves. Starting with a springtime header made up of last year's photos. 

Meanwhile, speaking of Easter, I'm hooked on the annual St. Paul Pioneer Press Peeps contest, which draws an amazing array of creative and elaborate entries. Entering is on my bucket list.

This year, just for fun, I invited ViMae to create a scene with me. She came up with a Christmas wedding, prompted by a scrap of wrapping paper we used for a carpet. The wedding party is entering as couples, plus one tiny flower girl. The bride and her attendants carry red roses and the groom wears a red boutonniere. I'm kinda hoping this is the start of a winning tradition.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Own your worked hard for it!

World's greatest gift bag...
I'm two weeks into Being Seventy. Turns out that once I got used to the sound of it, things are not all that different from being 69, or even 68.

This past weekend I heard an NPR interview with Philip Roth, in which they implied that it was surprising that he continued to turn out novels in his 70s. He said he hadn't seen any reason to stop. His statement, as I recall, was, "I still had energy, and nothing had changed. I was eating the same breakfast cereal." Roth turned 80 last week, and he said he has slowed down. He naps every day--after he goes for a long swim.

This brings us to one thing I've learned lately. If you want to be healthy and active at 70 or 80, you'd better start working on it a lot earlier. Had I been strength training in my 50s, I probably wouldn't have fallen three times in my 60s. Had I built and sustained my stamina, I might have recovered more readily when I did break my leg. Surely it would have been easier to return to the fun activities that keep us healthy and alive.

But I'm not dwelling on that. I'm doing my tap routines several times a week, and I'm gently stretching for flexibility. I found my dumbbells, and I'm setting up a schedule. I will walk outdoors in a week or two, when the dratted ice melts from our treacherous sidewalks. In another month I should be able to work in the garden, or at least at its edges--always a favorite workout. We are seeing the sun for more hours in the day, and on those days when it chooses to shine, I salute and celebrate it.

and gifts that go with Being Hot. :)
Here's something else I've learned. If you are dreading a birthday, celebrate the heck out of it. Get your friends and family together, maybe several times over the course of a week, talk about life (the good, the bad, and the ugly), and see if you don't find yourself celebrating who you are. Part of that, of course, is being whatever age you are. The sooner you own it, the happier you'll be.

I can tell from your blog posts that most of my readers already knew that. I did, too, but aging brings all kinds of changes and I suspect some of them will be equally hard to embrace. As the saying goes, growing old is not for cowards!

P.S. The gift bag plays "Ring of Fire" when you open it. The perfect gift from my brother Al and sister-in-law Lynn!


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