Restless waiting.

This is what March looks like from the inside of my house with the door open as I watch nature do her thing.

In ten to fifteen minutes the wind will really pick up, whistling through the branches of the trees and blowing that fluffy snow in white, blinding swirls.

I will think about Husband out there on the roads that were coated in rain yesterday afternoon and likely frozen solid today and I will worry until I hear the sound of his boots clump up the steps and the creak of the door as it swings open.

Home, safe and sound in the middle of a full-blown March blizzard.

Oh, we get one or two in this month that promises spring pretty soon, but not quite yet.

Kids all across the state are celebrating the first snow day of the winter by bundling up to head outside and build forts and fling snowballs or snuggling in their jammies under a blanket with popcorn and a movie.

Teachers are taking this free day to catch up on paperwork, housework or finish that book they haven’t had time to start, dads and moms are shoveling sidewalks and driveways, college students are drinking beer or playing video games, grampas are watching the radar, ranchers with cattle under their care are worrying about calving and throwing an extra straw bale out on the snowy ground and the southerners up here for work are wondering what the hell they’ve gotten themselves into.

Me? Well, I’m in my long underwear staring out the window at the way the snow swirls and drifts and makes the walls of this house moan a bit. The snow is melting from my boots and making puddles on the warm floor in the entryway and the dogs are snoring on their spots, a result of our morning trek outside to admire the way the snow had settled on the trees overnight.

That was before the wind picked up and shook it off.

That was before Husband was home safe and sound.

That was before I ate a sandwich and wrote a song I think I might have written before and thanked the heavens from where this snow was falling that I didn’t have to be anywhere but home.

Because an hour ago I was making my way to the top of the hill to see what the overnight snow had done to yesterday’s brown landscape. The dogs reached the summit before me, their ears blowing in the wind and their eyes squinting against the snowflakes landing on their eyelashes with growing force.

I knelt down to snap a photo of a frozen, sleepy flower and headed for the shelter of the oaks.

No matter the wind and the weather those trees are a haven and a sort of quiet mystery to me. I know that’s where the horses are, somewhere in this pasture huddled together in the oak groves. I know that’s where the deer bed and the elk hide and the squirrels and grouse and maybe even the mountain lions go to wait out the weather.

To wait  for spring.

And I know I won’t see them today, the blizzard growing more severe and the dogs more obnoxious and curious as they snort and roll and climb in and out of the banks.

This time of year I get restless. This time of year I get worried that I won’t have another great idea, that my skin will never be brown again, that I won’t ever warm up.

Last night I declared these worries out loud to Husband who lay next to me in bed, relaxed and assured and breathing softly in the dark.

In the quiet calm of a Sunday night, a night working on brewing a storm that would keep us tucked in our houses the next day, I said, “What if I never write another song? What if all of my ideas are used up? What if I’m not good enough to keep up with the plans I have? What if I get sad and stay sad? I can’t be sad. I don’t have time to be sad.”

He was silent for the moment after the words I chose, the ones that went… “I wish you understood…” and then he said, “You can be sad. And you can do nothing. Sometimes you need to do nothing. And then, you need to get up, go outside and live a life that gives you something to write about.”

So I went out in the storm today, not because I don’t know what it feels like, but because I wanted to feel it again. Because I wanted to be reminded.

And I wanted to be cold and out of breath and far away from the house and the work and the worry and sheltered by nothing but the heavy branches of the oaks.

I wanted to be quiet and let nature–uncontrollable, unpredictable, fascinatingly, frustratingly, beautifully unyielding nature–do her thing while the rest of the world made snowmen and banana bread, mopped floors and read newspapers, navigated snowy roads, called friends, made plans and wrote novels.

And I, like the deer bedded down and undetectable, did nothing but wait.

Multiple Personality March

Ahhh, March. You bring us one month closer to the promise of spring with your wild and unpredictable snow storms, your extreme warmth, your puddles and mud, little bit of rain, thawed out cow plops, cloudy and sunny and then cloudy again skies. All of your personalities keep us on our toes and undecided about appropriate footwear and jackets and I like that about you.

I like that you bring on the wind and the mud, the fifty-degree temperatures and the blinding blizzards, the rain and the ice.

Yes March you’re a little ambitious. You get up a little earlier and go to bed a little later. And that suits you fine, all of that light reminding us that soon we will be able to stay outside until 10 pm and wake up with you at 6.

Soon our days will be full of warm sunshine and green grass sprinkled with flowers…

I am looking forward to it, I am. But truthfully March, right now, it doesn’t appear that all of us are on the same page. You know, the page we turn to take us from hibernation, head under the covers, groggy, snugly evenings that meld into dark and lazy, robe wearing mornings spent shuffling around the kitchen with our eyes barely open to the place where we crack open our windows and let the warm breeze sing us to sleep after a day spent under the soul-refreshing spring sky only to be wakened by the sliver of sun peeking through the window in the early morning hours, prompting us to pop out of bed and greet the chirping birds and fresh green grass poking through the earth…

Nope.

Some of us are not quite there yet.

Some of us are caught in limbo, the place between holding on to our winter coats and throwing caution and our fur, to the March wind.

Some of us are still sleepy.

Some of us aren’t quite ready to trade in our flannel p.j.s for nothing but the sheets.

Some of us haven’t shaved our legs for months.

Some of us wouldn’t mind another extra hour or so to finish up that reoccurring dream about Ryan Renolds.

Some of us need three to six cups of coffee before the day can start.

So March, don’t take this the wrong way. Realize it’s still early, the pug’s still snoring and I have yet to change out of my robe. March, I appreciate the little glimmers of hope you create and I expect that whole “Lion/Lamb” thing. I appreciate your puddles and the way you warm the hilltops. I like the vibe you’re throwing this week and what you’re promising for the weekend: 50+ degrees and a chance to ride some horses.

But I know your good mood won’t last. It never does.

And that’s why I haven’t packed up my furry vest and slippers that might as well be boots.

Nope.

I don’t trust you.

And neither do these guys.


They’ve been burned before.


So we’ve come to an agreement to milk it. To call it winter and sleep in. To lay down in your sunshine and put on another pot of coffee just in case.

We love your face March. We do.

But you can’t trick us. We’ve learned and we’re going to stay tired for a while longer.

So we aren’t moving, we aren’t shaving, we aren’t opening these windows, packing up the down coats, or looking for our short sleeves until at least mid April.

Yeah…when April gets it together, maybe we will too.

Maybe

Mother Nature. It’s a woman thing…

Good morning from the land of indecision. And by that I am referring to the weather.

And me. But we’ll get to that later.

Ok, so remember when we talked about that spring thing and the melting and the running water and the removal of the wool caps and scarves and my fantasy about wearing cut-off pants and running through the sprinkler.

Well, that’s all shot to shit now and after the last few days, I am firmly convinced that nature is a woman.

A moody one.

Out my kitchen window yesterday...you're supposed to be able to see the red barn...I can't.

Because just as she gets nice and comfortable with a bit of sunshine and blue skies, raising all of our hopes up of sun kissed skin and BBQs, she laughs like an evil queen in a Disney movie and then throws some more snow and wind and fog and freezing ice in our faces…only to come back and apologize with something like a rainbow or 70 degree weather.

Ah well, like a rocky relationship, we’re all used to it by now.

And for those you who think an all out school cancelled, no travel advised, wind whipping snow pellets in your eyeballs, no Schwanns man for the rest of your life and zero visibility day is unheard of after spring has been declared,  I’ll tell you, you haven’t met Mother Nature in North Dakota. In March.

No birds today...

Yes, Mother Nature can be a completely unpredictable, annoyingly indecisive bitch sometimes.

And I can relate, because I have had those kind of days. I am a woman too and lately I have been driving myself crazy with a little project I like to refer to as “Mission: the rest of our lives” and I have displayed all of the above qualities and more during this process. So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mother Nature for mirroring the conflicted mood I’ve been in by slamming sleet and snow against our windows and blowing a drift across the door and blocking husband and I inside this little house together in the middle of a bathroom remodeling project, forcing us to make some damn decisions already.

Because it worked.

See, after we sold our house in Dickinson at the end of December, husband and I have been discussing and researching and making decisions and canceling plans and going through books and websites and talking out where exactly on the ranch we are going to live for the rest of our lives.

As you know, I have lived here, in the house my grandfather built, since June. And since I moved my shoes and bed and table and books and music and body between these walls almost a year ago, slowly I have found myself coming back into my own again. I have rediscovered this landscape where I grew up and began to throw myself into the things I loved to do as a kid, because I couldn’t help it, I felt 10 again. I picked wildflowers, rode my horses, explored the old barn, walked the coulees, played in the rain and rescued lost kittens.

And I wrote about it, worked through it and relaxed a bit into myself again.

But during this time I have always had it in my head that my existence in this spot, with the window that looks out to the barn and the other that faces the corrals, would be temporary. Our plan was to build a house over the hill and leave this house the way it is, with some updates and an open door to guests.

That was our plan, so we moved forward–kind of. We talked to builders and picked up pamphlets and searched the internet for custom homes and asked questions and never really did set it up and move on with it already.

What I was most excited about was fixing up this house. Putting in some new floors, siding, deck, appliances–the works. I wanted to see it glisten and shine again. But really, what about our house already? What was wrong with us? What was the hold-up on making our forever home?

Forever.

Home.

Forever.

Well, on Sunday we brought home some tiles to fix up the shower in the farm house. Tiling. Not my favorite by the way. And as we were taking a trip out to the shop to get the tools, on the way back husband stopped short of the door and put his hands on his hips. He leaned back. He inspected. He moved around the house making noises like “hmmm…” and “wellll…” and “huh.”

I watched him for a bit, my arms full of tools. Then I asked the inevitable “What?” “What are you doing? We have a mission here.”

He turned to look at me through the foggy air and mist that settled in on the barnyard and over the square brown house before the storm hit and out of husband’s mouth came words that, simply said, seemed to clear that fog and mist and hovering clouds that had existed in my mind as indecision…

“We could stay here. We could stay in this spot. We could make it work.”

I sat down on the deck that is in desperate need of repair and put my head in my hands.

“Yes,” I said.

“Yes,” I whimpered.

“Yes,” I wailed.

“Yes,” I sobbed.

“Yes. I want to stay here.”

And so we took the time that was reserved for tiling that Sunday afternoon and talked it over, made some drawings and gave ourselves some options on how it could work.

And I was happy.

And still am.

And think I always will be here.

At home.

Even with the storm wailing outside and painting this house and barn white.

Even while other people were hunkering down against the storm yesterday and watching bad movies we were inside tiling and tiling and making plans for more work like this.

Even when I can’t get my car out of the snowbank.

And since many of you are snowed in today I think this might be a good time to share with you a little extra reading: My winning essay and answer to the question “Who Inspires You” for the “Inspired Woman” magazine out of Bismarck, ND.

Read it and then tell me why I didn’t listen to myself and figure this whole forever-home thing out months ago when I placed the last period at the end of the story.

It must be a woman thing.

You can see the entire article in the magazine, complete with photos, here: Inspired Woman Magazine

P.S. The decision to stay in the this location doesn’t mean we won’t have space for guests. It just means we will have different space available…

And so a girl changes her mind and I am confident it will work out for the best.