I was going to write about the woes of March. I was going to call her a lyin’, cheatin’, bad friend full of broken promises. I was gathering sad pictures to prove my point.
But then something shifted. I had written earlier that our love or hate for winter was a question of attitude. If that was true, and transferable to other seasons, my loathing of March and April might be in need of a serious attitude adjustment.
My body tenses just thinking about March and April. My mind is wanting to embrace the beautiful idea of spring but my body memory tells me of cold, northerly winds, fast moving weather systems that dump 30+ centimetres of wet snow overnight, and interminably grey skies. We don’t have spring in southern Quebec, we have winter’s slow and painful exit.
Buddhists would say I have set myself up for stress and suffering – one part of me desiring an early spring and the other part resisting what is present. And they would be right. Since I’m on the path to ending suffering, there seems to be work to do here.
The first order of business is changing my thinking about spring’s arrival. If I no longer believe that spring arrives here on March 21st, I can’t be disappointed when she doesn’t show up. So, I’m officially moving the start of spring to April 21st. This is much more realistic and a very good first start in my attitude adjustment.
Now that I’m not expecting spring until the end of April, I can move into acceptance. I anticipate there’ll be some exquisite days when the sap runs in the trees and our bodies will feel a joy that only people who have wintered here can really know.
On those days, I’ll be outside breathing it all in.
It’s the other days that might be more of a challenge. Facing challenges reminds me of a story that Fred Rogers, the creator of the children’s program Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, used to tell. He said that when he was a boy and would see scary things, his mother would say to him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” I’m wondering if a similar strategy could work in facing the challenge of a winter that never seems to end. We could seek out the helpers:
- Visit a local maple syrup producer and breathe in the sweet aroma of boiling sap. Have a sip of fresh maple syrup or eat some sugar on snow while we’re there.
- Listen and watch for the returning birds.
- Invite friends for dinner or meet them at a local pub or eatery.
- Add lighter foods to our diet – more vegetables, less carbs.
- Buy some tulips to add a little colour and to remember that spring has arrived in other places.
- Look for the beauty in the changing light, the sun’s last rays, the moon rising…