Shoe full of slush

Originally published March 2008 in the Dickinson County News

It’s happening – same as it does every year. Snow is melting, brown weathered grass is creeping into sight, I’ve got a shoe full of slush – and I’m smiling.

Spring may not be here just yet, but some of those springtime thoughts are drifting into my head.

One of my favorite memories is taking a stroll through the slush with a college professor.

We drifted down a narrow road in another rural Iowa town. The sky was blue, the sun was warm and our moods were high.

While we didn’t share many words, we watched excitedly as our feet cracked the ice along the sides of the road.

We swayed back and forth in a drunken manner, as we danced in circles trying to break as much ice as possible.

I’m sure onlookers were a bit surprised to see a 50-something professor and a college senior getting so excited over newly cracked ice.

These same onlookers may have thought we were doing a rain dance or attempting to kill a strange sort of ice creature.

But, in reality, we were sharing a strange ritual that I will forever adhere to – we were welcoming Spring.

The sound of cracking ice has always been one of my favorite noises. It means that winter is nearly over and spring will soon arrive.

So, I celebrate by stomping on ice.

Once in a while, I find a kindred spirit to share the ritual with – sometime a child, sometimes a friend and sometimes a favorite college professor.

Other times, I stomp all by myself, listening to the crackling sounds and kicking ice to the sides of the sidewalk.

I hope its a ritual that I never outgrow.

I realize that many may already find the activity immature, but may let me get away with it just because I’m still so young. Someday, I’m sure these same people expect that this youthful spirit will leave me.

Others, like my 50-something college professor, won’t ever find my ritual immature. He, and many of my kindred spirits, have kept the spirit of youth alive all throughout their lives.

I hope I never lose the spirit either. I hope when I’m 50, I’m found stomping on ice on an early spring day.

But until then, I’ll be youthful in this 25-year-old body, and will hope to see you out stomping this spring – wearing your own shoe full of slush and a smile.

“Youth is not a time of life – it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of red cheeks, red lips and supple knees. It is a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination; a vigor of the emotions; it is a freshness of the deep springs of life.”
– Samuel Ullman