Springtime a most welcome house guest in Minnesota


Open the window, boy. Roll it on down. Glide it, slide it, slam it down. Bury it deep inside the car door and let May charge in with all her glory.

It's 71 degrees, the green's back in the trees, the road is dry, and the Dodge is purring. Open the window and introduce this musty chug to the perfumed air of spring. Give the inside the outside and blur the boundaries.

Now hand me that Sawzall. I'm taking the roof off this rig. I longed for a convertible as a young man, and today I'll own one.

Take my jacket and burn it. Don't hang it up, burn it. Build a bonfire and throw in the mittens and scarves. Throw in the shovel and ice pick. Throw in all the memories of windows closing.

Remember when we shut and locked them, the sound of each one sliding into place? The kitchen casement was the last to linger. We swung it closed last November, formally giving winter the cold shoulder. December was but a framed image spied from over-stuffed chairs. January and February were greeted on the sidewalk but never invited in. March was a pesky, loitering presence in the back yard, grating on us with that stoic mug.

Then, April. Suddenly, the bay window began to whine, the double-hung to moan. There were knocks at the shutters mid-morning, creaking in the late afternoon, a restless buzz in every dusty pane. Word was out. May was on the move.

Seasons are there for reasons, son, half of which we don't fully comprehend. I think somewhere something is perpetually trying to teach us the lesson of waking.

Well, wake me, boy. Open all four portals and let the air style this mop of hair any way it pleases. Let the sounds of the boulevards fill this car with an energy it hasn't known since autumn.

When we get home, run across the lawn and tell your mother we have a guest for dinner. May is back, and she's coming through the front door, coming through the back door, coming around through the second-story screen, coming into our bedroom, wafting across the sheets, and drifting on down the hallways. The outside is the inside and the inside is the outside, and the walls are but a formality.

Do you know how to dance, boy? May will teach you. She taught our ancestors eons ago, and they drew their movements on cave walls. It must have been important to dance in the spring, and to record it. It must have been a wondrous site to see May from a cave opening. Now there was a window!

Look, it's starting to rain. No, don't close the window. It's only water. Why be annoyed by it when we can be baptized in it? Sense the shift in the scent of the air. Inhale the aroma of the soil yawning back to life.

When I was your age there was a grand ritual this time of year. All over town ladders would appear. The heavy storm windows would be yanked from houses and relegated to garage rafters. Out would come the blessed screens. Water hoses would wash away the cobwebs, and these sacred creations would be lovingly set in place, proudly calling in the natural world from all four directions.

We knew what a season was because we marked it. We spent a whole day marking it, closing a window on one season, opening one on another. For most, that particular dance is history. So be it. Mark this season your own way. Find a new ritual. Paint it on the cave walls of your memory. But try to keep windows a part of it.

In no time, another Minnesota summer will be upon us. The mercury will rise and many will quickly return the windows to their February positions. Air conditioning, too often, creates an alternate version of winter housing. Hold off as long as you can. Don't let the walls have a purpose so soon. Don't hand the outdoors back to the outdoors without a fight.