The Big Meltdown

    The January thaw is upon us, a chance to take a midwinter breather and scale all the extra snow off the driveway. I’d actually prefer if the temperature never rose above 32 all winter. The world stays a little whiter and a bit less sloppy, but I’ve learned to go with the flow and enjoy the milder temps.
     Even in the old days — which means, as far back as I can remember in Minnesota — we often seemed to have a thaw in the coldest winters. Just a day or two above freezing, and then the temperatures would plummet again. You step outside and hear the pip, pip, pip of water dripping off the eaves, and you think, Well, maybe it can be spring again sometime.
     Not yet, of course.
     A little meltwater, along with the subtle lengthening of daylight hours, gives promise of coming seasons. One year, probably in the 1980s or early 1990s, the temp soared to 45 one day in January, and a buddy and I had to put the canoe in. We paddled along the shore in the open waters of Lake Superior just for the novelty of it. It felt mighty good.