Hiking in Spring

Lately, I’ve been going on hikes to prepare for an upcoming road trip.  On the weekend, no matter the weather, I spend my morning at my local state park.  There is a five mile loop that goes along the river and up into the bluffs.  It’s a great place to train and an even better place to think.

This morning, rain was in the forecast and I had the trail all to myself.  One of my favorite things about hiking is the way the cadence of my footsteps pushes my brain to places that feel high and rich.  As I scrambled over rocks, past trees, and up high hills, I found myself deeply moved by spring.

In Minnesota, spring comes slowly.  It comes in waves of warm and cool weather, rain and sun, green grass and sticky mud.

On the trail, most of the forest was still brown and dead.  The leaves were just starting to peek forth–a green blush against the rainy sky.  The ground was scattered with little flowers–pink and white and purple and yellow.

What a miracle it is, that life emerges from the bare earth. It reminds me that there will come a day where there will be no more crying, no more pain, no more injustice.

Spring comes forth in quiet radiance, whispering of life and peace and, best of all, hope.

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Southern Spring & Dear Friends

There is something about a road trip that gets my heart racing.  When I’m having a bad day, thinking about an open highway is the perfect escape.  Growing up, my parents loaded my brothers and I in our minivan and drove us around the country–from Maine to Alabama to national parks out west.

It’s been about a year since I’ve properly traveled.  Last April, I did a month-long trek across Europe on my own.  Upon returning, my bank account was dangerously empty and I’ve been focusing on my librarian career ever since.

Still, it was high time for a road trip.

This past weekend, I took a few days off and made the trek with a friend from Minnesota to Nashville, Tennessee.  Round-trip, we drove 1,500 miles and spent about 24 hours in the car.  Our only mishap was a speeding ticket in Iowa.

The further south we went, the world came alive.  It was as if we pressed fast-forward on Spring.  Grass and flowers emerged, the temperature dropped, and leaves sprouted from trees.  By the time we arrived in Nashville, we had stripped down to t-shirts and shorts for a few days of summery warmth. Continue reading

Crossing Campus in Late March

Minnesotans wait a long time for Spring.  Winter marks its territory in November and stays with us until mid-April.  The month of March is the most difficult to get through–most of the snow is gone, the ground is starting to soften, but most of the world is still a frozen wasteland.

But then there’s that day when you catch it: the slight scent of spring.  I don’t even know how to describe it, really.  It’s just a subtle freshness in the air.  It’s slight, but it seeps down into your soul, giving you fresh energy to make it through a few more weeks of winter.  The thing is, though, if you don’t pay attention, you miss it.

A few years ago, during a particularly long, miserable winter, I was in a poetry class.  I don’t do much creative writing these days, but I’ve resurrected something I wrote on the subject of the first scent of spring.  I re-edited it just now to make it decent enough to post. In light of a Blogging 101 assignment (which I discuss below), I’ve decided to share it with you all.  My theme wasn’t cooperating and formatting some of the words the way I wanted, so I made an image version.

———————————————— CrossingCampus Poem Text ————————————————

This post was created for a Blogging 101 assignment that had to do with writing based on a prompt.  I wrote from the following, found on The Daily Post:

From the yeasty warmth of freshly baked bread to the clean, summery haze of lavender flowers, we all have favorite smells we find particularly comforting. What’s yours?

I’ve always enjoyed prompt-based writing, but I haven’t done any in a long time.  I really enjoyed crafting this post, revisiting old writing, and sharing with you all.  This stretched me in a way I’m not used to, and it feels good to push myself.

You now know about one of my favorite smells.  So now I have to ask: What’s yours?

Pleasant Valley Thursday: Inaugural

Working on the farm was the first job I ever had.  Imagine little thirteen-year-old Amelia in a baggy t-shirt, athletic shorts coated from head to toe with a layer of dirt…  you get a pretty accurate picture of my formative teen summers.

Now that I’ve graduated college, I’m at home working, once more, for my dad at our family’s apple orchard and pick-your-own strawberry patch.  It’s not the most glamorous thing in the world.  In fact, most of the work is far below my education level.  But work is work and I’m happy to do it.

Every Thursday, I’ll be writing about my on-the-job experiences.  Starting this past Monday, I’ve been working from 8 AM till around 4-5 PM every day.  Before I get into any details, though, please take a moment to watch the following video.  Even if you only watch a few seconds, you’ll get the picture.  A few weeks ago, a guy flew his drone over our property at sunrise and pieced it together.

This is where I get to work every day.  You can’t deny that my home is beautiful.

Jobs this Week:

  • Fill sandbags and haul them to the strawberry fields
  • Read the handbook for the new lawn mower and test drive it
  • Weed newly planted strawberry fields
  • Plant strawberries… Fill in gaps where the planter machine missed

Currently, I’m the only one working.  My younger brother is joining me tomorrow.  The rest of our summer crew will filter in over the next month or so.

Low: I ripped the skin off a couple of my fingers tying sandbags.  It now hurts when I bend some of my fingers.

High: It drizzled all morning and the heavy rain set in the afternoon.  Because all my dad’s indoor jobs had to do with fixing broken machinery, he let me off work at noon!  No mechanical experience, no problem.  I had the whole afternoon to relax and get some around-the-house projects done.

Finally, everything is in bloom and it’s lovely.  I took this photo while mowing yesterday.  Enjoy!

To Bobby

Why is the measure of love loss?

The opening lines of Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body have been ringing in my head.  They don’t particularly fit the situation at hand, but still they persist.  I walk across the sunlit campus, under the apple blossoms, across the grassy mall, and the words continue to resonate.

Why is the measure of love loss?

A boy from my neighborhood died this weekend.  He had been out drinking with friends and simply disappeared.  His body was found yesterday in a river.

He was in the grade below me.  His family has a farm a mile from my own.  I graduated with his sister.  My little brother played baseball with his little brother.  My best friend’s family is close with his–they call each other brother and sister.

I didn’t know him well.  In fact, I barely knew him at all.  But twenty year old kids aren’t supposed to die.

Just last week, his sister posted a photo on Instagram of him in front of a poster.  It was captioned: “Pretty proud of my brother today!!  He developed an ice cream at UWRF for part of the URSCA that substitutes cream with dried buttermilk!  Make sure you save me some!  #proudsister

That was five days ago.  Now he’s gone.

I can’t help but think–what if it was MY little brother?  What if it was me?

This is the time of year when everything is growing and the sun is shining and the future is ours to grasp.

It’s not supposed to end in mourning.

In which writing my senior seminar strips away my ability to blog.

Maybe it’s because really nice out, which is odd for Minnesota this time of year.  Or maybe I’ve spent too many afternoons pent-up in the library writing essay drafts.  Whatever the reason, every time I open WordPress to make a new post, my thoughts fly out the window.  My mind goes blank.  I sit back.  I think, “You know… maybe I’ll find the words tomorrow.”

I don’t want to abandon you, dear blog, especially when there is so much pre-graduation nostalgia floating in the air.  There’s not better way to make a good post than channeling as much sentimentality as possible!

Really, though, my focus is elsewhere at this point.

I’m a busy girl.

My senior seminar draft is in full swing–I hit sixteen pages this afternoon!  It’s nowhere near complete, but it’s a start.  I’ve spent three afternoons on it and fully intend on using a fourth tomorrow.  I wrote a different nine page essay earlier this week.  I’ve been thinking deep thoughts about Romeo & Juliet, which is WAY better than I remember last time we met back in ninth grade.  I have an interview for my dream internship next week.  I’m reading this AWFUL book for my Courtly Love class called The Rules: Time-tested secrets for capturing the heart of Mr. Right.  (It’s one of the most sexist, offensive texts I’ve encountered yet.  My face contorts with disgust every time I look at the cover.)  I’ve been planning and attending Bible studies and meetings, preparing for my future career in ministry.  I’ve been trying to spend time with people I care about, which is a challenge ’cause it’s the busy time of the semester.  I’ve been going to the gym, taking walks to the wind turbines, and soaking in as much sunlight as possible in hopes that it will keep me going.

At this point, I’d rather do all these things and more than try to blog properly.  Maybe when my senior seminar draft is finished and polished, my inclination to write will come back.  Who knows?

Until then, you can find me in the library.  Or watching Netflix.  Or thinking about Shakespeare.  (I wasn’t kidding about being in love with Romeo & Juliet.  It’s a wonderful play and those poor kids need to learn to keep their hormones in check.)

Emergence of springtime

Because of the length of Minnesota’s winters, when Spring comes, it’s a big deal.

Immediately, there is a shift on campus.  Even though it may only be forty-five degrees, everyone is suddenly in shorts and flip-flops.  The mall is suddenly filled with students laughing, throwing frisbees, and even sunbathing.  The library is dead quiet.

Despite all there is to do between me and graduation, I find it difficult to resist the allure of warm weather.  After five months of snow, wind, and subzero temperatures, I long to abandon the books and soak in the sunlight.  I changed up my workout routine and abandoned the gym to, for the first time in my life, go on a real-person, non-treadmill run.  My body was (and still is) pretty unhappy with me (running is HARD), but it was worth it to be outside.

Last night, I drove to my Bible study in the next town over with the windows down.  My arm rested casually on the ledge, hand waving in the wind.  I blasted Cloud Cult and watched the prairie zoom by, not a care in the world.

Sometimes, it feels so good to ditch studying and soak in the sun.

There Will Come Soft Rains

I heard the weather before I saw it.  The wind blasted against my windowpane, causing it to shake and shudder.  The thing about living on the fourth floor of a building, though, is that weather look worse than it actually is.  When I stepped outside in my blue dress, headed for church, I was pleasantly surprised.  The wind was strong, but not overpowering.  A slight drizzle fell, forming small puddles on the path.

I could smell Spring coming.  And I thought of this poem by Sara Teasdale.

~~~

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

~~~

Photo from Google: http://www.paintingsgallery.pro/upload/artists/lipko_andrew_218564/artworks/www.PaintingsGallery.pro_Lipko_Andrew_Spring_Rain_On_The_River_medium_219217.jpg

Spring rain

It’s impromptu poetry time!

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

dusky morning

dawny afternoon

eerie dimness smothers and

lends to pittering and pattering

along the cold-cracked pavement

 

on the other side of the window

my roommates bound

through the falling droplets

oscillating up and down

months of restlessness

result of a five month Minnesota cold spell

suddenly breaking

 

on my side of the pane

I crack open the glass

hugging my warm sweater

breathing in the first spring rain

 

rain-water-falling
Click for Photo Cred

The right to complain

Minnesotans have every right to complain about the weather.

Sorry, other parts of America.  I know that you’ve had some unprecedented weather-related incidents this winter.  Snowstorms in the South, unusual low temperatures, etc.  I understand, but remain fairly unsympathetic.

In Minnesota, you quickly learn the difference between the different kinds of winter storms.

First, there are snowstorms, which are exactly as they sound and result in heavy amounts of snow.

Second, there are blizzards.  Sometimes, blizzards involve snowfall, but for the most part, they are significant because of wind.  Whiteout conditions occur, limiting visibility.  High winds push the temperature down significantly.

This year, a third term has been inducted into winter weather vocabulary : the Polar Vortex.  Basically… these occur when the weather from Canada is dumped on Minnesota, resulting in extreme subzero temperatures.  In a Polar Vortex, only a few minutes of exposure can easily lead to frostbite.  Lengthy exposures lead to hypothermia and potentially death.

We’re in the midst of the third Polar Vortex this winter.  Although, in reality, it has felt like one constant stream of terrifying cold.  For a solid month, the high never reached above zero.  Where I live on the open prairie, the wind always blows.  When the high is already below zero, the windchill temperature plummets.  In January, we basically had three straight weeks where it was negative thirty.  I stayed indoors for two straight days because going outside could kill me.  One of my classmates is from Alaska, and he informed me the other day that winters here are on par with ones he experiences back home.

Do you see?  Do you now understand?

Minnesotans have every right to complain about the weather.

We endure the ungodly conditions.  We brave the roads in blizzards.  We wake up in the wee hours of morning to shovel our driveways.  We carry on, month after month, until Spring finally comes.

Unfortunately, Spring here doesn’t usually arrive until mid-April.  Which means I’ve still got a month and a half to exercise my right to complain.

To all of you in warmer climates, enjoy it.  You don’t know what you’re missing–and be thankful for that.