It starts with a smell and then a sound.
by Jackson Nickolay
On the North Shore of Minnesota there are two Springs: Fake Spring and True Spring. Fake Spring comes to the shores of the big lake first. The independent weather system that is Lake Superior provides milder temperatures and a snowless spring, sometimes as early as March. People rejoice as they see the sun. Backpacks are pulled out, picnics are planned, and tents are aired. These aspirations, while enjoyable in their brevity, invariably are dashed. As Garrison Keillor explains, “…the April, or May, or early June blizzard comes and teaches us a lesson that we’ve all learned before but can stand to learn again I suppose…”
The wise folk of Grand Marais have learned not to get their hopes up until they can smell it. True Spring comes when the deeper snow and lake ice from the Boundary Waters and the Gunflint Trail begin to melt and come free of winter’s grip.
The snowmelt coming from the hills smells fresh and clean, and the earth reacts with smells of its own. The shedding of the death of fall and the long slow sleep of winter makes way for the new life of animals and the vibrant greens that reach out to the warming rays of the sun.
Then there’s the sound. The sound that brings with it a whole new world of exciting adventures. Of mud boots and building rock dams. Of hiking through spring showers and the first campfires of the year. The sound of rushing water. That sound heralds True Spring and all its promise.
So be patient. You’ll know it when you smell and hear it.
Thanks to Susan Krage for capturing the beautiful image of spring at the top of the page.