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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

April 1999

Mud makes a lasting impression. © Robert Queen

Backsliding

A meditation on winter giving way to spring.

Mike Patenaude


Mud makes a lasting impression.

© Robert Queen

There is no starch in a spring snowfall. No snowballs, no angels on the lawn. No justice.

Just a few half-hearted slides in roadside slush.

Kids are back at anchor in heavy winter boots at the school bus stop; Packer parkas and ski caps have been retrieved, rumpled. Bare hands are jammed into pockets, the mitten bag buried too deep, too soon with too much hope.

Even the cardinal has a little hitch of doubt in his song from a treetop perch.

It's a snowy Monday morning in mid-April.

This is not what I pictured Saturday when I raked the debris of a dead winter off tulip, day lily and hosta sprouts. When I moved the birdfeeders across to the corner of our lot, it was in the anticipation of morning dew on my bare feet, not more snow in my boots. When my rake blundered into a nest of cottontail babies beside the garage, I cursed my soft center and replaced their cover. Mom's tracks haven't appeared in the snow, yet.

My fault?

I am suffocated by winter whiteness, by wool and leather and polypropylene. I am crushed by responsibility for shoveling, for antifreeze, for the austere office of thermostat vigilante.

Now even, for baby bunnies.

I pine for green.

Mike Patenaude writes from Mount Horeb, Wis.