Legends are a theme in the fourth grade classroom in which I am currently working (on another full time but short term assignment.) In the classroom, the students have been hearing folk tales, tall tales and legends. In music class, the students have been learning about Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass, among others, and singing a song about walkin' with some legendary heroes and heroines "to the promised land." In the library, we heard a story today about the Legend of the Teddy Bear.
During a Great Lakes history lesson, the wonderful teacher in whose classroom I am working read aloud The Legend of the Lady Slipper. Having been enthralled by wildflowers since I was a child, I was very interested in the story. Unfortunately I had to leave the classroom during the story to take a student to a small group session. Before I left the room, I heard this phrase, summarizing a lesson the girl in the story learned from her mother, "A brilliant Spring always follows the hardest of winters."
The idea of a January Thaw may not be legend exactly, but it falls into the category of folk lore. Around here, the thaw may come early or late, and there may be more than one, but I cannot remember a year without some sort of January Thaw.
This year, we have been experiencing a thaw since late last week, so it would be easy to expect the early arrival of spring were it not for the snow storm looming large in the weather forecast. For the past several days, heavy rain has fallen. Monday, an electrical storm , fully charged with lightning and thunder, raged during school hours. Last night, the wind pelted sheets of rain against the windows all through the night. Today, the wind continues but the rain has stopped.
Midway through the morning, our teacher stopped for a moment and asked all of the children to look out the window. There was a collective gasp as 24 sets of eyes beheld a blue patch of sky and a white blaze of sunshine. A moment later, clouds shifted and the light dimmed but our belief in the brilliant spring at the end of winter was restored.
Looking out the window now at bare branches waving across a shifting background of heavy clouds, this seems odd to say but: It is a perfect day. The wind is drying up much of the rain on the back roads. If there had not been this windy day without precipitation before the temperatures plummet and the snow falls, then the country roads would be a solid sheet of ice making travel treacherous. Today is a pause... a hyphen... a moment of meditation... between the January thaw and the return of winter weather.
photos by Aisling, January 6, 2007, the first days of the January Thaw