Needing the Spring Thaw

This morning, we were trying to decide how necessary it was to shovel the five inches of snow we got last night. The temperature has been all over the map this winter, trending in the unseasonably warm direction for much of the last month. We also are in the latter half of February now, which means that the sun, when it shines, is actually fairly warm. The hours of daylight are also significantly greater these days than in December. These warming factors, coupled with the relatively little snowstorms we’ve been hit with this winter have made it so that prior to the snowfall last night, we had no remaining frozen precipitation on the ground. This is rather unheard of for many New England Februarys. As much as I detest snow and cold weather, the extent to which we’ve screwed up the climate and its resultant weather patterns due to global warming is unnerving. I argue that anyone who denies that we have damaged the environment and the long-term consequences are projected to be scarily tragic should we not quickly reverse the damage, is just burying their head in the sand or reading biased, unscientific sources. It’s a real problem.

Anyway, when we were considering the immediacy of needing to shovel the five inches of new snow this morning, I pulled up the forecast for the week. I was alarmed (but honestly very excited) to see that it’s going to hit 65-70 two days this week! While the word “unbelievable” is often used improperly or as hyperbole, here, I believe it truly fits. For this time of year, those type of balmy temperatures are basically unheard of. Needless to say, we decided that rushing to shovel didn’t need to be a priority—fine by me!

Given that one of my autoimmune diseases, psoriatic arthritis, is exacerbated in cold weather, I have more reasons to excitedly anticipate spring than just desiring more comfortable outdoor conditions, brighter sun for improved mood, and enjoying the delicious colors and smells of blooming flowers and trees. I truly feel healthier and experience milder pain when I’m not freezing. Even though this week we will be spoiled with spring-like warm days, I know there are still at least six weeks of winter weather left to contend with.

We have decided to go to Washington D.C. for a long weekend at the beginning of spring. Nearly 400 miles south of our home, D.C. welcomes spring a few weeks before we do here in Massachusetts. In elementary school, my family took advantage of this fact and drove there for April vacation several years in a row. It’s a long trip, but it was just within the boundaries of a reasonable distance to take a week-long car trip, and it always felt totally worth it. I remember the feeling as a six and seven-year old, rushing out of the car at a rest stop in Maryland. The grass would be snow-free, green, and speckled with yellow dandelions. I’d nearly do a belly-flop onto the grass, as my wobbly car legs tried to carry my sprinting body to the patches of grass. I’d feel the soft earth cushion my body as I lay in the grass and picked flowers while my parents gassed up the car. It was like the grass was an electronic mat that worked to recharge my whole-body battery with energy and exuberance drained by the long, dark, sunless, Massachusetts winter. I’d hardly want to get back in the car for the last leg of the trip because I was already so happy ok the small, dirty, strip of grass along the side of the highway.

The payoff of saying a temporary goodbye from the warm outdoor sun was well worth it. Washington D.C. would welcome us with sunny daffodils, sweet pink cherry blossoms, and t-shirt-warm temperatures. We’d soak up the beautiful spring weather as we explored the city for the week and spent time learning, laughing, and bonding as a family. By the time we had to return home, our hometown was tasting its first hints of the final winter thaw and the springtime bloom was just days away.

Ben and I don’t have the means to take a full week there, but we are both really looking forward to our brief getaway. We haven’t traveled anywhere together for nearly three years, so a little vacation together is long overdue. I have always found that our travels together build so many wonderful new memories and further cement our loving bond. Now that we are communicating better and fully dedicated to understanding and taking care of one another, I think the “need” for a relationship-restorative getaway is less dire, but that’s not to say we won’t enjoy our trip together and a break from the monotony of our very regimented everyday life. Plus, with all of my recent obsessions with history and culture, the Smithsonian museums are a big draw! I can’t wait!

I’m looking out the window and can see that the early morning sun is already radiating melting warmth onto the blanket of snow covering the yard. My joints have yet to get the message that warmer weather is coming. They are steadfast in their determination to be ungodly stiff and painful. If my walking has ever been characterized as Tinman-like, it has been a vast hyperbolic simile compared to now. With the recent contaminations layered upon the psoriatic arthritis damage, fluid, painless walking is an impossibility. I wince and protectively tighten my muscles as I hobble and lumber along. I ice and wrap my joints, elevate my legs, and wiggle around in pain on the couch every afternoon. Relief is elusive. I’m really hoping that the springtime thaw and warmer temps melts some of the crepitus and immobility that’s taken hold of my joints and threatens to lock them in vice-like painful rigid positions over this winter also melts away. I’m staying optimistic and donning my bravest face every day to conceal the pain I’m in and the worry that accompanies that discomfort. Honestly, I’m very proud of how infrequently I’m irritable these days despite my physical activity restrictions and constant, chronic, high levels of pain. I could have never handled this with such maturity and equanimity a year ago. That’s not to say I wish I didn’t have to…

We have one more day of the weekend to enjoy together. Since I’m not feeling well, it’s another mostly restful day so that I can set myself to feel decently healthy enough to tackle the work week. After all, I’ve got to put in the hours to make money for our trip! The lure of seeing that three-day break on the calendar is definitely fueling my positive motivation and determination to keep trying my best to be the sweetest, happiest, and toughest I can be.

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