March came in like an incredibly frigid and bad-tempered Lion this year. Just weeks ago we were waiting patiently for the needle to creep above zero. Now we find ourselves begging for one last snowfall. You know what they say; be careful what you wish for. The warmth came a little faster than we’d hoped. The Lamb crept in overnight. The skiing isn’t optimal, the ice is retreating, and the clutch of winter is just barely hanging on.
When winter lets go, our North Shore rivers start to flow. We must go with it, or risk our sanity being swept downstream. Spring could easily be called the most abrupt transition that we experience on the North Shore. And what a spectacle it is to behold! It begins with a gurgling trickle and the crackling of ice. Soon enough, you feel the warm breeze on your skin, the sun’s rays reflected off of the crusty snow, and you watch the raging torrent wash winter away before your very eyes. There is something bittersweet about witnessing the grip of the deep freeze vanish.
We lament the loss of our ski trails and we feel a pang of regret when we retire our snowshoes to their storage sheds until the next big snowfall. Then the April showers come and they bring something far more sought after than May-flowers…Steelhead. Spring rains bring yarn flies and waders; spawn sacks and spoon-casting. There is the promise of a noble fight beneath the shadow of an untamed waterfall. Eddies haunt the dreams of those that have experienced the thrill of hooking into one of these fabled shallow-water juggernauts.
For others, welcoming spring is about reacquainting one’s feet with the bare ground. When the blanket of snow is peeled back it reveals the life that has enjoyed a peaceful slumber for the preceding months. The buds form on the willows, the snowshoe hares become a mottled mix of brown and white, the sap begins to course through the maples, and the reclusive northerners wake from their hibernation. They lace up the hiking boots, dust off their walking sticks, and tackle their favorite trails before they become heavily trodden.
Those with a keen eye might hit the beaches or the forests in search of a new gem for their collection. The Lake Superior agates are ripe for the picking after being turned up by the fall storms and winter ice. The antlers of moose and deer lie where they fell, in the darkest corner of some long-forgotten swamp, just begging to be found. Others yet, carry along their camera, hoping to snap a memory of a beautiful scene that only their eyes were privileged enough to see. The night owls among them catch a glimpse of the dazzling Aurora borealis in the northern sky. Each item is a memento from an unforgettable and well-spent day among the people and places that forever hold a place in our thoughts.
Mitch Travis, Activities Director