The early trout season in Wisconsin opens today. Despite the fact that we might get a couple inches of snow tonight, it is an undeniable harbinger of spring, or at least the weakening of winter’s grasp. There is a long way to go before spring is recognizable, but I know that many who get out there today will hear chirping birds and cast to rising fish.
What a winter. I remember the first hit of real cold in mid-December. It was windy and sub-zero and dark. Then it seemed like all of January was frozen solid, an indistinguishable blur of sharp temperatures that just went on and on week after week, except for the very last day of the month when it seemed the weather gods wanted to screw with us all and the mercury jumped up to the mid-40s, everything melted, and we were robbed of a full month of sub-freezing temperatures.
A week or two ago I walked Lola in the morning through a melting world, knowing that it was too early to consider this a long-lasting relief, but suddenly I heard honking overhead and I stopped and turned and watched a solitary goose cross the sky, an early scout for open water, overeager to return to his northern climes.
But yesterday I found myself walking outside without my jacket, first to a meeting downtown St. Paul with my new boss, and then over to Great Waters for a quick pint to wrap up the week.
I went home feeling weight lifted from my chest. There will be much scrabbling left to do this month, this season, this year, this life, but I feel a little like that goose, glad to be aloft after a winter in brackish southern marshes, seeking open water and signs of spring.