This time of year, there shouldn’t be birds outside, in the early morning time. There shouldn’t be bare stretches of shoreline, raw and mud-brown, circling the lake. There shouldn’t be green buds shrugging themselves against the half-thawed earth of our yard.
This time of year we should still be hunkered down, holed away under blankets and space heaters and old wool sweaters pulled from the bottom of the pile. We should be wading through snow drifts up to our knees. We should be trekking across frozen lakes, red-faced, frozen-teared, feeling the sting of thawing noses and fingers as we end up at the coffee shop on the other side, leaving our snowshoes and skis at door, shaking the ice from our heavy-coated limbs and stomping inside. We should be frozen under ice. We should be aching toward spring, the idea of it existing as whisper, as vaporous half-memory. The warmth of any sun should feel as foreign as moon-travel, as the art of walking upside down.
The birds woke me up again today, as they have since Saturday. The lone pile of snow that remains behind our house has shrunk to a husk of gray ice. It is so forlorn that “pile” doesn’t suit it properly — it is more a half-hearted reminder of a winter that never quite came.