While hiking up a steep hill near me yesterday, I was thinking what a long winter it’s been.
But then aren’t they all?
The hill’s a popular one for sledding and has been a busy place this past week after a couple of back to back snow storms.
But Saturday it was empty except for me, the sun, and the trees swaying in the breeze.
It seemed most of the neighborhood children had set aside their sleds, and were busy dusting off their bicycles.
Others were already riding them through the growing puddles in the streets below.
As I stood and faced the sun shining down on the hill, I smelled the musty earth melting below my boots.
And I soon felt March’s blush of warmth on my winter weary face once again.
I even heard a flock of song birds sing a promise of spring as they flew overhead.
Sure, there’s another big snow storm coming here tomorrow, but I know spring is on the way.
How do I know?
Because yesterday I know I saw the light.
Soon I’ll be leaving all electronic devices in my comfortable home and making an hour and a half drive back in time to a one room log cabin 90 miles away.
I hope the young grandchildren I take with me do the same.
Originally constructed in 1868 on the Minnesota prairie, this simple cabin of hand-hewn logs and wooden pegs now rests in a park located in a nearby town of 200 people.
My great grandmother Christine lived inside her first winter in America along with family and the other Swedish immigrants who helped build it. In total, 11 people slept in a space no bigger than my 8 by 10 foot back porch.
In spite of brutal blizzards and negative zero wind chills, these immigrants survived and then thrived in the years that followed with dogged determination and dedication to hard work.
They toiled in the fields year after year growing wheat and raising cattle as did several generations after them.
Today immigrants from East Africa and other continents also live in the region surrounding the cabin, along with descendants of the earlier settlers.
Their tastes may lean towards lamb as opposed to beef or lutefisk, but they share my early ancestors’ determination and dedication to hard work.
I’m pretty sure when my grandchildren arrive to see the old cabin in the park they’ll also want to play on the shiny swing set now sitting on the playground in front of it.
I’m also confident they’ll want to share it with any new children in the area that they meet.
It seems parks and swing sets in America still speak a universal language.
And fortunately, so do our children.