The Last Windrow: Another winter that stayed too long
I forget what year it was, but winter had stayed a bit late on that Iowa farm. I remember banging my head in frustration into our feed shed door as the flakes of snow continued to descend on our farmstead in late April.
It was a year much like the year we are now having. I was not a happy camper. I think this year, I have a lot of not-so-happy campers around me.
Just after I had oiled my fishing reels and refreshed my tackle box in anticipation of heaving a flopping catfish from a thawed out Big Sioux River, another snowstorm had hit the countryside. It was enough to make a grown man cry.
At the gas station, just up the road from our farm, I think I did detect a tear in the corner of our farm neighbor Marion DeRaad’s eye as he gazed out across his snow-covered cornfield. He thought he was starting to plow that week. Not so fast, pilgrim.
Late winters test the metal of those who choose to live up here on the semi-tundra. The winter of 2012-13 started with a whimper as November transcended into December with very little white stuff on the ground. I was even beginning to worry about our septic drain field freezing again, as it had done a number of years ago.
Not to worry. That’s all been taken care of now. There is still a foot of snow crowning my septic field. I feel a strange comfort in knowing that. Frozen sewers make you no friends in the immediate family. When ours froze a few years ago, our daughter threatened to leave home until we could flush again. It is a serious matter.
I was foolish enough to think about pulling my boat out of storage a week ago. But, something told me that this winter had one more good blow in it. I don’t know what it was, but something inside of me remembered that year when I pounded my head into that feed house door in the frustration of waiting for a spring that just didn’t come.
My wife has her seed plants growing in our basement as I write these lines. There are numerous little green plants reaching for the fluorescent lights I have hung from our basement ceiling. They are gentle little plants, so fresh and new. They are thinking that maybe they will see real and warm sunlight before June 1. I wish I could be as optimistic as these fragile little plants are. They know not what lays just outside the basement door.
My cousin, Charlie, wrote me an email today asking me how my potato planting is coming. Charlie lives in St. Louis and just a week ago I wrote him in the middle of a St. Louis snowstorm asking him how his garden was growing. I think Charlie saw no humor in my message as he had just come inside from blowing out his driveway for the third time. So, today he returned the favor. We’ve always been pals.
As I remember from some Bible verse, there is a verse that says, “This too shall pass.” I should remember where that came from because my German Lutheran upbringing required that I memorize the Bible. Time has shaded the passages from my mind, but as I gaze across the now snow-covered landscape, I somehow remembered that verse. It gave me great comfort.
So as the National Guard leaves Worthington after the ice storm and the State Patrol pulls the last car from the ditch and the geese start flying back south, I will persevere as we all must. We must go on! We have no choice! Spring green will erupt in a violent manner and we will be made whole again.
Perhaps by July?
I’m on my way to dig my snow shovel back out of storage at the back of my garage. I had hope when I stowed it there.
See you next time. Okay?