Hypergraphia is a condition that causes people to transcribe their thoughts uncontrollably. I don't suffer from it in the clinical sense, but I may be borderline. My blog is the cyber-wall where I spray paint my thoughts for all to see. By the way, if you came here directly through blogger --if your page has no yellow frames and no pretty pic of me in the top left corner -- you may want to visit my main site at www.hypergraffiti.com, where you can read this blog and much much more.


I'm Trudy Morgan-Cole, a writer from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. My books include "The Violent Friendship of Esther Johnson," "Esther: A Story of Courage," and "Deborah and Barak." I'm also a married mom of two, a teacher in an adult-ed program, and a Christian of the Seventh-day Adventist kind. I blog about writing, reading, parenting, teaching, spirituality, and shiny things that catch my eye.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Newfoundland Spring

Snow and blowing snow.

That's what we had last night, after two or three weeks with no snow, some milder temperatures, and snowbanks melting all around us.

The landscape outside my window this morning looks as white and wintry as January.

Given that this is my 42nd year of life and I lived away from home for eight years, this is my thirty-fourth experience of Newfoundland "spring." I'm quite used to it -- the false hope, the ugliness of the melting dirty snowbanks and everything that's revealed beneath them, the storm that hits just as you've unzipped the inner lining from your winter jacket. I know that what passes for spring here is really the long, slow, painful death of winter, struggling back to life long after we'd thought it gone for good. I enjoy springlike days in March and April, but I don't get my hopes up.

In my last blog post I reviewed the movie Reign Over Me and commented that I liked the realistic way it dealt with recovery from grief. We have such an expectation (fed by media and fiction more than by real life, I think) that recovery from terrible experiences, or any kind of change in life, is a spring-like process. People get better gradually but certainly, moving from a dark cold winter of pain and loss into an inevitable and radiant summer, becoming a little stronger and happier every day.

I teach young people who are trying to finish their high school program after dropping out -- sometimes because of physical or mental illness, or addiction, or abuse, or the aftermath of grief and loss. Watching my students last year as we slogged through "spring" semester towards their June exams, it struck me that making changes in life is less like our ideal picture of spring, and more like a Newfoundland spring. We make two steps forward and one step back -- if we're lucky. Good days and bad days. Whole weeks when you think the worst is over, you begin to hope, you shed your protective layers and walk around enjoying the sunshine. Then the bad things (whatever your personal "bad things" are) hit like a storm, snow and blowing snow whipping around in front of you, and you try to move forward through zero visability and wonder if it will ever end.

Even the good days have their share of ugliness -- the melting snow piles reveal layers of dirt and garbage and dog poop underneath. When the frozen layers that protect us start to melt, there's a lot of stuff beneath them we'd rather not look at. Sometimes it's easier just to retreat inside while another load of snow gets dumped on top.

Recovering from grief or loss, abuse or addiction, or just finding your way in life when you've been lost, is not like spring in the movies. It's not like spring in America, or some idealized picture-book spring with crocuses blooming and robins hopping about on the grass. Change, healing, recovery is more like March in Newfoundland, a hard dirty slog, days of hope punctuated by setbacks.

But a snowstorm in late March is not like a snowstorm in February -- the roads have been cleared, the huge mounds of snow melted, so that even though the visability is poor you have more space to maneuver; you can see where you're going. It's hard to remember in the middle of a March snowstorm that summer is coming -- it seems to remote and unreal. But we're closer to it than we were a month ago. Two steps forward and one step back still puts you ahead of where you were. Change is slow, dirty and frustrating. But it happens. Summer comes, every year.


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