Spring ought to be coming soon to Northwest Montana—in theory, at least. Today, daytime temperatures topped out at 6° F, and we’re already on the way to another night, in a string of them, below zero. In other words, we’re having a proper winter.
There has been a lot of chatter lately about winter being only a temporary state of being, a rest from the joy of summer. I suppose that for a species that emerged from equatorial Africa, it makes sense to see winter as the dead time between summers. Of course, we’ve been wandering the rest of the globe for sixty millennia—give or take—, so you might think we’d have grown accustomed to a little cold weather by now. I for one can attest that, after being raised in the sauna of the Deep South, it takes only a few short months for a sunny day in the single digits to feel balmy. Though, soon enough 40° F will feel much colder than today, and the cycle will repeat itself as the homeostatic properties of the human body do their work.
There is, as always, the larger perspective beyond our limited human vision. Astrophysicists tell us that the universe is expanding, and, at some point 10^10120 years from now—give or take—, the universe will reach maximum entropy. Like spreading a bed of coals apart from one another and into the snow, all possibility for life will more or less have ended. In that sense, proper winters like these are balmy days for the universe as well. But enough with existential dread this season. Yes, we all eventually die and the flame of the material world goes out, but there are more important things to ponder on a warm day in March.
—Fishing, for example. Due to the onerous finale of my Master’s program, which will gratefully be completed in the next three to four weeks, I’ve had to limit my outdoor pursuits. In fact, “limit” is a gracious word for the paltry amount of time I’ve spent breathing deeply in the cold winter air. But, the one thing that has kept me going has been winter fishing and fly tying. I have a fly box full of pink stuff for the Mo’ and other local tailwaters, and I’m already starting in on ‘hopper patterns and ants for late summer fishing. I guess I’m no one to judge those whose thoughts have turned to spring—I haven’t slept outside but once since October, and all I can think about these days is the April ice-off and returning to the world outside as the snow slowly melts away.
If winter is a state of universal being, then so is summer—each in their season. When my classes finally end and I can finally return to working only a more-than-full-time job, it will be spring no matter what the weather station reports. In the meantime, I’ll be getting ready.