The Long Line

April showers and hiking plans



I really want to love spring. I will be honest though, I really don’t.

There is a lot of social pressure when it comes to liking spring. I know spring is supposed to be about renewal, warmer weather, longer days, birds returning, and flowers springing up. Here in Northern Minnesota though, it is a time of sloppy streets, dirty snowbanks, and fickle weather. I don’t mean to be a Negative Nancy, because

I like to be considered mostly positive. It’s just that there are no guarantees, and there is always that lingering potential for more winter weather to come along and sour your spring mood. We think we are so close to the end, and then BAM! More of that fluffy white stuff begins to pile up. It always feels like a major setback.

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty to like about spring. I would just rather fast-forward to summer. I long for evenings in the boat watching the sun go down, long walks along the road enjoying the lupine, hot summer mornings picking blueberries, and paddling new lakes in my kayak. There is so much to enjoy! I am getting anxious for days like that. Meanwhile though, I will try and appreciate the things that spring has to offer. Every day I look forward to seeing yellow cowslips (marsh marigolds) in the ditches.

New birds have started to arrive at the birdfeeders. Yesterday, I took a drive up the Echo Trail and picked a bouquet of pussy willows. On the next warm day I am going to hang my hammock. I am hearing lots of reports of rhubarb shoots appearing in gardens. I can’t wait to bake up some delicious rhubarb treats. Yum! Rhubarb is a sign; first rhubarb, then strawberries, and finally blueberry season. In the spring when it is not snowing, it is probably raining. You know, the whole April shower thing.

This morning I woke up to the sound of rain falling on the metal roof. Raindrops appeared on the windows. There is a part of me that likes it. The sound of rain speaks promises of a new season. However, it is an example of that fickle weather I was talking about. It wasn’t supposed to rain until this afternoon. I had solid plans to hike some trails and to breathe in some fresh air and get some much needed exercise. What now? Another day stuck behind a computer, watching movies, or doing a puzzle? When it rains you are stuck inside. Sometimes it is hard to figure out what to do in the in-between seasons. This year I was going to try hiking.

Today as it rains, I will plan future hikes. Often, we take hiking or walking for granted. It doesn’t seem that exciting when you have a garage full of adventure gear – skis, snowshoes, kicksleds, kayaks, and bikes. Sometimes we forget that hiking or walking can be just as adventurous and just as much an escape. All it takes is getting up and putting one foot in front of the other. Just like that you are gone.

When I think back on the past I can recall many fond memories of walks I took. When I lived in Holland, I used to walk along country paths just outside of town. There was an old windmill that I loved to walk by. At the time I didn’t think that much about it – it was part of normal routine – but now I do. What an adventure it really was! There was also a time in my life when I walked three miles a day. Part of it was for exercise (I lost a lot of weight) and part of it was to get rid of my angst, as it was a very difficult time in my life. Walking is therapy as well as exercise. It can be a good distraction, and a way to wear of some anxiety. It is a great way to get outside. I have always liked to walk.

Hiking has never been my thing, but I have met some hikers that have inspired me over the past year. It is something that I want to pursue more in the near future. I love to try new things. Why limit yourself? The more tools you have in your bag, the healthier and happier you will be.

When I began this column, it was for the sole purpose of encouraging others to get outside. I have never considered myself an avid outdoorsperson, but what I realized is that it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how in shape you are, or how experienced you are; if you have the desire to get outside, you should do it! Happy spring!

Jody Rae lives Eveleth, MN, but spends most of her time in the woods.

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