The younger kids were playing some kind of game, my oldest son was at school taking a standardized test, my daughter was at college writing a paper, my husband has been out of town for three days, and my parents were headed to the Farmers' Market downtown. No one needed me; I was free to take a leisurely walk. I left the house, with its kitchen full of unwashed dishes, office piled with stacks of papers, living room full of kids, and walked across newly unfurling clover past the shallow muddy pond that shrilled with the songs of spring peepers.
Wearing my tall green boots, I sloshed through the wonderful mud and dark puddles of the woods. In another month, the woods will be deeply shaded, but in April the sun slides down past bare branches, shining onto mossy stumps and wet brown leaves. I tramped along my trails, pausing only to toss aside dead branches that had fallen, worked my way to a dry spot covered with pine needles and moss.
The sun touched my face, my forearms. I flopped to the ground and turned upward to meet the warmth that slid toward me. Perhaps you need to live in a place with snowy winters to understand how this felt. Perhaps you need to experience a winter of wearing multiple layers of bulky clothing, double socks that itch, clunky hiking boots, and long underwear that soaks up sweat and leaves you chilled. A winter of sweeping snow off the car several times each day, scraping ice off the windshield, trying to drive with mittens on while the car heats up. A winter of wet winter clothes always hanging in the kitchen, drafts that make your feet cold no matter where you are.
I pulled off my t-shirt, my boots, my jeans, and stretched out to feel that wonderful touch. On the ground, the spring air moved slowly. I could hear birdsong and the scampering of small creatures. The creak of pine limbs. I could smell dead leaves, old pine needles, new mud. But mostly, my senses were overwhelmed by sun trickling, tickling, kissing my skin. Something I dreamed about all winter long.