May-be

May 22, 2021

It might finally be time to put away my winter clothes. I’ve been dutifully folding and packing them, then taking some out again, since early March. Back then, 50 degrees was a heat wave. But each successive cycle saw me getting less tolerant of the cold (until I heard the inevitable “You’re wearing gloves?!?” from a well-meaning neighbor).

We Midwesterners love to envision all the fun we’ll have when the weather turns warm and sunny. When it rains, or when frost threatens, the image doesn’t match reality and we feel a raw disappointment. We curse the weatherman for not telling us sooner how disappointed we’d be.

These summery visions are an integral part of my concept of home. Somehow I feel the most relaxed and at-home in warm weather. And when I imagine what it would be like to live somewhere else, I’m picturing a summer scene. I plan to write about this in depth at some point, but suffice it to say that places are powerful. Just like relationships with people, relationships with places can be life-altering.

A cursory look at my journals shows that I’ve been feeling the power of this place for years. It’s often at this very time (I always think April is my favorite month, until May arrives). There’s also continuity in the people I encounter here. I’ve been following a pattern, though it may not have felt that way at the time.

I recently got to hear some other concepts of home shared at a virtual roundtable discussion. One speaker, who grew up in Sauk County but settled on the West Coast, talked about the “complicated, wistful feeling” he has when he returns to Wisconsin. I know this feeling well. When I visit places that once felt like home, or could still feel like home, I’m troubled by the thought of all the opportunities I might have missed.

But I won’t spend too much time asking “what if.” Rain or shine — the three-dimensional place outside my window is more beautiful than any mental image.

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