When the anti-fever breaks

I think of winter as an anti-fever. A sustained sub-normal temperature, and when spring arrives, it means that the anti-fever has finally broken.

Fevers aren’t all bad. Of course they can be dangerous and must be closely monitored, but they serve a function – to help the body fight off infection. The anti-fever of winter sort of does the same thing.

Cold Minnesota winters help break the life cycles of many types of pests. Cold, long winters help suppress tick populations and really cold, really long winters help kill many tree pests including the Emerald Ash Borer.

The vexing thing is that these long, cold winters – although good at fighting pest and disease cycles in nature – are hard on people and animals, physically as well as mentally.

I always say that the hardest 60 days in Minnesota is January 10th through March 10th. The excitement and anticipation of the holidays are over, the days are short and bitterly cold, and the reduced intake of fresh air and sunshine shrivels everyone’s mental state into somewhat of a prune.

But alas, spring always comes. And this year, the anti-fever broke abruptly last Saturday, all within the span of a few hours.

That morning I loaded my delivery van with meat and eggs to head down to the cities for deliveries. When I started the engine at 5 a.m., it was a frigid -18 deg F.

But heading to bed that night I knew we were going to “spring forward” at 2 a.m., giving us an extra hour of evening sunlight, and have a daytime high of nearly 40 degrees on Sunday. Just like that, the switch closed and we sublimated from archetypal winter to quintessential spring. Trumpter swans literally flew right over my head, traveling north.

Today is our third day in a row with above-freezing daytime temps, and last night we actually stayed above freezing. We have a lot of snow up here on the farm, but it is melting fast and the mud is beginning to rise around the soles of our boots to say hello. Mud is most welcome in the first week of spring.

In a vacuum, early spring isn’t the prettiest: mud, dormant grass, leafless trees and wet, cold air. But because spring follows winter, we are thankful for it. We appreciate what it means to “thaw”. We appreciate that the anti-fever has broken.

At our dinner table this week, we give thanks that Minnesota spring is now upon us.

We hope you’re as excited as we are.


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