Bring on the green of spring

lake in spring

It’s April and I can’t tell you the relief I feel and the hope I harbor. As I have aged, I believe I have been afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and its symptoms seem to make our winters feel even harder. The beginning of spring, meanwhile, almost makes me giddy — and giddy, as my friends can attest, is not my natural state of mind.

The good news begins with rising temperatures. I feel colder in the winter at 78 than I did at 68. It’s hard to look cool when you feel cold: A flannel shirt and a fleece vest aren’t a stylish combination. By April, I’m down to one layer — a pair of Levi’s and a short-sleeve shirt.

Taking to the streets

In spring, I can move my exercise regimen and routine from indoors on the NordicTrack to outdoors on the city sidewalk, the hiking path or the country road. I can quit taking tiny steps to keep me from slipping on the ice and falling on my fanny (but which also happen to make me look like a doddering old man).

I can begin striding when I walk, swinging my arms and extending my neck. The “Minnesota hunch” is gone.

Oh, I know: Walking in spring means stepping around goose droppings on the sidewalk and roadway. But one of those Canada geese provided a memorable, spiritual moment a few years ago: I was walking to Target along Valley Creek Road when I spotted a goose near the sidewalk. When I got closer, I realized he was standing over the body of another goose, on the ground with its wings spread. I got within 5 feet and he didn’t move.

When I passed by an hour later, he hadn’t moved a foot. I believe he was grieving for his dead mate. I had read that Canada geese keep the same mate for a lifetime. At the very least, he was standing vigil.

While walking in spring is exhilarating, raking is satisfying — so much more so than in October when the leaves blow all over the place. In April, you’re raking thatch, and when you finish, the grass looks neat, clean and emergent green — just enough to bring a smile to the face of a guy like me, with a touch of OCD.

Dave Nimmer fishing
Dave Nimmer

Putting in the boat

Since I live in a townhouse, the lawn I’m raking belongs to an Afton family where I keep my rowboat. They’ve generously off-ered summer dockage privileges and always tell me that raking isn’t part of the deal.

The truth is I want to feel as though I’m contributing my part for this privilege and I actually like raking their lawn.

It’s a spring ritual.

So is putting my boat in the water. When I flip the 14-footer over and slide it from the shore to the dock — where it’ll stay until October — I’m truly mindful, fully in the moment.

It is a joy — and has been for 31 years. I got the Alumacraft as a gift from the staff of The Minneapolis Star when left my job as managing editor to be a reporter for WCCO Television News.

The boat is now 41 years old. My fishing partner, Jim Shoop, turned 87 this year. We’ve probably spent the equivalent of half a year in that boat, sitting 10 feet apart — fishing, talking, thinking, eating and, occasionally, snoozing. So far we haven’t tired of each other’s company. The good news is the 2019 fishing season is just getting started.

And, oh, yes, I know. Fifteen inches of snow fell last year in the Twin Cities from April 14 to 16.

I was supposed to go to a Twins game.

Jim Shoop fishing
Jim Shoop

Dave Nimmer had a long career as a reporter, editor and professor. Now retired, he has no business card, but plenty to do. Send comments or questions to dnimmer@mngoodage.com.