Friday, March 20, 2009

Springtime in Minnesota: Snirt, Slud, and Chirping Birds

Spring is supposed to be about green grass, brightly blooming flowers, cheerfully chirping birds, lots of sunlight, happiness, and all-round niftiness.

That's not what springtime in Minnesota is like.

Around here, it's the time when winter melts, a period which combines the more unpleasant qualities of both summer and winter.

Dust, dirt, and debris deposited by winter winds on successive layers of snow are systematically revealed and combined as water runs off.

Minnesotans developed a specialized vocabulary to deal with our alternatively-pleasant springtime. The combination of snot and dirt that accumulates during winter is "snirt" snow plus dirt. An "open winter," with exposed soil, leaves a lot of. This year we had lots of snow, so there wasn't that much snirt.

As it melts, snirt turns into snud. Sometimes the snirt melts so fast, it turns to slud. (Snow and mud, snow and liquid mud, respectively. And revoltingly.)
And there's water. Cold water. Cold water that runs over pavement by day and freezes overnight. In the morning, what appears to be a damp sidewalk or street is a perfect, smooth, skating-rink-slick layer of ice.

Then there are the trees, bending over this desolate and soggy scene with the charm of discarded oven-cleaning brushes.

And, in their branches, birds. Their chirps, warbles and squawks remind me that, if I wait long enough, the snud will rejoin the soil, grass will turn green, and trees will sprout leaves.

And, no matter how unlikely it may seem at the time, summer will come.

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