In northern Wisconsin spring comes on in fits and starts, like a cat who can’t seem to make up her mind about where she wants to be–in or out? Rain or shine? Will it be 75° tomorrow, or will it have snowed overnight?

I’ve learned this now, after a year and half of living here. I’ve learned a lot of things, made a lot of adjustments. When I first moved in, it was with my husband and his roommate and their respective cats. Last September the roommate and his cat moved out. Just me, my husband, and our cat. Three weeks later my mother, who had been ailing back in Washington for nearly a year, passed away after a short bout of pneumonia. A month after that we got a kitten, because one is never enough.

So now I’m well and truly motherless, nearing 40 years old, rattling around in this house which often feels too big for me. Two bedrooms! Two floors and a basement! This feels like unimaginable luxury, having come from my parents’ house–a bedroom for them, and me sleeping on the pull-out sofa each night. It's all a lot to get used to: the house and its roominess, the setting and its seasons, having boy cats instead of girls, cooking for two people instead of three, trying to figure out when I can safely plant veggies and flowers.

I always feel most grounded when I'm aware of and moving with the rhythms of the natural world. Having lived in the Pacific Northwest my whole life, less a five-year stint in Illinois, I’m now learning things all over again. There are real winters here, for one. They're bitter, and nothing like the endless damp and grey of a western Washington winter–about as appealing as living inside a cold wet sock for months on end. Wisconsin has crickets and fireflies (lovely), but also junebugs and ticks (not so lovely). The summers are wetter here, and pack more of a wallop in the heat department. Everything happens later or earlier than I'm used to.

There's a lot that's new and different, but the landscape has always been oddly familiar to me. I was never quite able to put my finger on it until talking with my dad one day. Back in the 70s he had briefly bummed around near where I live now, and he remembers the area fondly. “Don’t you think it looks like the Snohomish River valley?” he asked, and it all clicked for me. Same glacier-cut dales and jaggedy hollers, banks of tree-covered hillsides, fields dotted with grazing cows and wild mustard, rivers and streams winding all over like a child's scrawl. Of course it’s not a one-to-one copy, but it’s similar enough that I never experienced any real homesickness when I first landed here.

It feels good; it feels like home. Everything new shall be made old again, to borrow and butcher a phrase from Ecclesiastes.

04 / 25 / 24