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

Kissing Snow

My best friend calls it kissing snow.

You know–the kind with big puffy flakes.  The kind that floats gently as you walk hand in hand with your significant other down the street.  You cross under a street lamp and, pausing, steal a kiss.

Minnesota is known for its winter.  Therefore, the fact that it snowed today is neither significant nor important.

But as I sat in the basement of the Humanities building for hours and hours upon end, I watched the fluffy flakes fall and fell into the happy land of my own imagination.  I’ve never experienced the full delight of kissing snow.  Every time it falls, I look forward to the day I have someone to share it with.

So even though snowfall isn’t something out of the ordinary, in the middle of a busy day, it made my heart a little bit lighter.

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Campus in the snow. Taken from my University’s Facebook page.

 

 

What brings you life?

A good friend of mine has a job at an after-school program teaching coping mechanisms to teens with depression and anxiety.  When I asked her more about what she does, she replied, “We have them set goals every week.  These goals fall into two categories: Do things that make you feel accomplished and do things that bring you life.”  She then looked at me and asked, “Amelia, what brings you life?”

It’s something I’ve been thinking about ever since.

The first category is simple.  I feel accomplished by doing things that are practical–by making a list and checking off all the items.  (Yes, in my Meyers-Briggs I’m a strong J).  I feel accomplished by doing a job well, by striving for excellence, by working hard.  Schoolwork is good for this, even though at this stage in my life I’d rather be doing other things.

Life-bringing activities are harder to pin down.

You see, there are lots of things that don’t bring me life.  Trudging through the bitter cold is upsetting, though as a hardy Minnesotan I hardly complain.  People bustling around disturbs my thoughts.  Trying to cook dinner at the same time as two of my other roommates tests my patience.  Overly pretentious classmates annoy me.  Having the super-bright fluorescent ceiling lights in the apartment on after dark makes my skin crawl.

What, though?  What fills me up when the world sucks me dry?

Reading for pleasure.  There’s nothing more special than curling up in bed and reading by candlelight, than getting lost in a world that exists within your own mind, than falling in love and friendship with people who don’t exist.

Deep conversations with good friends.  Most of the time, these take place over the phone.  You see, I don’t let a lot of people close (typical trait for an INFJ), so the time I have with those I deeply care about is extremely special.

Encouraging others spiritually.  I love leading Bible studies and praying for people.  I love when I can speak truth into the lives of others and help them draw closer to God.  This brings me so much life that it’s what I want to do every day until I die.

Spending time alone.  Granted, too much alone time makes me go crazy.  (Another typical INFJ trait).  But there’s something incredibly calming about being in a room with no one around and only my thoughts to keep me company.

Tonight, I took advantage of the fact that my roommate was out and spent some time doing things that bring me life.  I turned all the lights off except the desk lamp, pulled up a movie on Netflix, and broke out my watercolors.  Being a college student is a lot of work, and every once in a while, it’s important to take time to do what fills you up.

So, readers.  You now know all about me.  What brings you life?

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Twenty Two

I might as well come right out and say it… today is my birthday.

Slogging through six inches of snow was not how I imagined spending my first day of being twenty-two.  But this is Minnesota, and Minnesota does what it wants.

On this day last year, I was in Oxford, England.  How many people can say they spent their twenty-first birthday in Oxford?  (British people aside, that is.)  It was one of the best days I’ve ever had.  I splurged on shopping, toured some of the colleges, and had my first drink at the Eagle and Child pub.  It was quite the adventure, and you can hear all about it (and see pictures!) on my old study abroad blog.

My twenty-second birthday is definitely not as epic, but still has been incredibly special.  My mom came to visit yesterday.  We drove up the road to Alexandria and went antique shopping, wandered around town, and had a special dinner at an expensive restaurant.  We sat eating for several hours, enjoying each other’s company and opening cards and gifts.  The day ended relaxing in her hotel, where we did some online shopping.

I spent the night in the hotel and had the joy of commuting to campus in five inches of snow.  The local school district cancelled everything today, but the University never closes.  I keep telling myself that God just wanted to drop LOTS of natural confetti to celebrate my special day… it’s a nice thought, but not super effective.

Outside of the normal Monday routine, do I have anything special birthday plans?  Not really.  All my normal Monday night events were cancelled due to the ghastly weather.  So it looks like I’ll be staying in and watching movies with the roommates.  It’ll be nice.  I’ll wear comfy clothes, eating goodies, and avoiding homework because…

I’ll also be rocking out to the following song in my head, even though I absolutely loathe it.  But it’s my birthday.  I’m twenty-two.  I’m going to break all my rules.  (Then go back to loathing it tomorrow.)

November

It’s the time of year when sunny days become scarce, the trees are stripped of what leaves they had left, and a dusting of frost can be seen on the grass as I walk to class.

November.  Technically it is the final month of Fall, but in Minnesota, it marks the beginning of the slow decline into never-ending Winter.  We begin pulling out our heavier coats, along with our hats, gloves, and warm scarves.  It’s a dismal month, cold and dreary.  We sit indoors longing for sunny September, dreading the imminent arrival of snow.

It’s not all bad, though.  My birthday is in a week or so, which is something to look forward to.  And around now, my normally adventure-seeking soul stills and weekends spent doing nothing in the apartment are a blessing rather than a curse.

These days are for staying in my room all day watching out the window from my desk as the wind turbines spin.

They’re for sipping a cup of hot tea and plunging into a new book.

They’re for messy hair and curling up in old grandpa sweaters.

And these days are for listening to songs like this one:

These last fall days

In Minnesota, we’ve been blessed by an absolutely stunning Autumn. The brilliant colors have now faded, but I continue to enjoy the crunch of leaves beneath my feet as I walk to class each morning. Usually, the end of October marks the beginning of the downward spiral into the seemingly unending winter, but this year, the days continue to be perfect.

I took advantage of the sunshine the other day and spent some time on a park bench in the middle of campus with a book.  What a wonderful way to spend one of the last lovely days of the year.

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What am I reading? Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

Who knows when I’ll next have the chance to bask in the sun?

This is Minnesota.  Winter is coming.

 

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

 

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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.

A note on blizzards

The tiny town on the middle of the prairie where I attend school has been struck by a blizzard.  And, like any respectable college student, I compare my suffering to Disney movies.  Specifically, I compare my suffering with Disney movies that deal with snow, ice, and all the magical goodness that Minnesota winters bring.  Yes, I’m talking about Frozen.

(Spoilers ahead.)

You know the scene, near the end, where Elsa’s emotions spiral so out of control that Arendelle is lost amid a massive swirling cloud?  Desperate to melt her frozen heart, our spunky protagonist and the tender-hearted mountain man brave the elements, struggling toward each other through the terrifying cold and whipping snow.  Valiantly they push through the storm, determined against all odds to find each other before it’s too late…

That’s how I felt walking to class today.

My face was numb after about thirty seconds and the wind nearly pushed me to the ground several times.  Yet still I struggled, putting one foot after another, determined against all odds to reach my destination.

The only difference between my day and Frozen is there was no Kristoff waiting for me on the other side of the blizzard. No.  No lovable mountain man to melt the despair I felt at the prospect of risking my life for the sake of my education.  In his place was class, professors, and homework.

I wish my life were a Disney movie.