I hope I am not being overly optimistic, but on Tuesday—after a lovely lunch in Dubuque with Janet and picking up some groceries and gas, both before and after—I removed the excess weight I had loaded in my pickup truck bed for driving on wintry roads. It is only early March yet, but after three solid months with snow on the ground (for the first winter since I don’t remember when—sometime back in the earliest Eighties perhaps—we have had snow continuously present, covering the ground, generally at least three inches of the stuff, since the beginning of December) I am ready for spring.
It’s probably too early for spring. I remember my first year teaching in Andrew that we had an individual or to make it to All-State speech festival. To this day the individual events All-State is held in Cedar Falls at the University of Northern Iowa; the opening ceremonies have moved from the Strayer-Wood Theatre to the UNI-Dome to the West Gymnasium just north of the theatre building to the new Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on the southern side of the campus. The student performances have always been held in various facilities all over the place. That first year was only one (or maybe two) performers scheduled early in the day, we were able to drive home right after lunch. What I remember about that trip (and what makes this journey into nostalgia relevant) is that early in April that year—which is when the festival is always held— we had to skate in a school vehicle all the way from Andrew to Cedar Falls, along the old Highway 20, on a hazardous sheet of ice. You can quickly realize how young I was that we actually made the trip. If I remember right, it was somewhat better heading home but still not completely clear. I also remember the boys who went talking me into stopping at the Kennedy Mall in Dubuque for about an hour—thus completely missing the end of the school day. For the Individual Events All-State 25th Anniversary, bad weather canceled the event.
I also remember snow days canceling school even later in April other years. However, it just seems like spring. (Besides, not teaching every day, I don’t have to get the truck out all that often anymore.)
Naturally, the word “spring” summons all the wrong images in everyone’s mind, including mine. This is the ugly time of year—all mud and moisture, muck and dreck, snowplow leavings, wilted grass and beaten down plants. When I made use of a relatively warm, although not compared to what we’re getting nowadays, and sunny afternoon to scurry around the town and shoot photos of my former residences, conditions were even worse as the snow was just then melting. I felt (please add the appropriately intense sarcasm) delighted to slog through ankle-deep mud and water in sidewalks that had never been properly cleared all winter. Attempting to dodge one minuscule lake, I not only soaked my athletic shoes in mud but also sprayed it all the way up my left calf.I think I want to write a rant on the dubious joys of residing in Maquoketa; too many of my fellow citizens seem to feel politeness, service and civic duty (even when, like shoveling your sidewalk, required by law) are only for others.
Currently, although the entire area is under a flood warning for the rain we have and are about to receive, it’s really just soggy and damp when you step off the concrete into a yard, as I did to snap the photos that adorn this article. Indeed, Tuesday afternoon, following the end of a thrity-six hour fog and a light rainfall, turned into a gloriously bright day—all sun and wind, a regular delight for Gerard Manley Hopkins fans (lots of his poetry makes me think of sunny, brisk and windy March and April days). More gloom and wet were ahead, but for a few hours the day decided to contradict my assessment of the season.
Unfortunately, the photographs reveal the dirt and dreariness the winter has left in its wake.
Temperatures continue to warm for us, perhaps even nearing 60° for the weekend. The blog will revert to the Seventies again these next two days (after all I still have chapters three and four to go), but enjoy your break, all!
©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.
Having attended the 2010 Andrew Individual Events Speech Night yesterday evening (really enjoyable—great performances all the way around: that’s what good coaching will get you), I wish the team to do well (Beak a leg!) tomorrow at Cedar Rapids Prairie for State. I know they’ll be the best!
Yesterday’s weather, by the way was so wonderful I couldn’t even think straight (not a great day for the creative activities, unfortunately). But the newest story proceeds apace, and I do have another important installment about Quetzal County slated for Monday. First, however, for the weekend, I want to continue that aged artifact, The Book of Seasons…