The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

April 6, 2014

At long last: Here comes the sun

KEVIN CULLEN
Commercial-News

— “Little darling … it’s been a long, long lonely winter,” goes the sweet little Beatles tune by George Harrison. “Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here … here comes the sun … here comes the sun … and I say, ‘It’s all right.’”

I was thinking of that the other day as I walked to work. Spring was all around. The sun was bright and warm. Purple and gold crocuses had thrust their pointy little heads through the brown leaves. Fat little robin red-breasts were chirping prettily. Here and there, grass was greening. Buds were swollen and getting ready to pop.

It’s hard not to love spring. It’s so beautiful, so fresh, so full of life and so very welcome.

The winter of 2013-14 will be remembered for nearly endless snow, bitter temperatures and school closures, but it wasn’t all bad, either.

I am not much of a winter person, but who could not be blown away by the beauty we saw — momentarily, perhaps — in new-fallen snow followed by more new-fallen snow, followed by even more new-fallen snow?

I appreciate its austere majesty. To me, there’s something mysterious about that vast, soft blanket of white that falls without a sound and transforms a landscape of rotting leaves, black asphalt and gray lawns into a pristine and perfect wonderland.

As long as I don’t have to drive on it, I love ice, too. If you have never made a wintertime visit to the Portland Arch Nature Preserve, a few miles north of Covington, Ind., in the little village of Fountain, you’re missing something.

The famous sandstone archway is at the bottom of a deep canyon, and water constantly leaches from the stone outcroppings. In winter it freezes, forming icicles that are sometimes 10 feet long. They look like the teeth of an enormous crystal dragon.

I love to walk through a silent, snowy woods, but I also like to retreat to my garage and build a fire in my little pot-bellied stove, which began its life 100 years ago in a railroad caboose.

There’s something primal about coming in out of the cold and watching chunks of seasoned oak turn into flame, then glowing embers, then ash. It’s mesmerizing. All sorts of long-ago thoughts come to mind. It doesn’t take much prompting, when sitting there, to reflect on the arc of life.

Wintertime food is so comforting — vegetable soup, cornbread, roast beef, mashed potatoes, warm pies and cookies, right out of the oven.

But springtime food, to me, is even better. We’ve already fired up our little iron “Sportsman” stove and cooked hamburgers and steaks. For Easter, my dad’s old barbeque grate will emerge from the garage to be loaded with spareribs and chicken.

“Little darling,” the song continues, “I feel that ice is slowly melting … little darling … it seems like years since it’s been clear … here comes the sun … here comes the sun … and I say, ‘It’s all right.’”

Danville native Kevin Cullen is a former Commercial-News reporter. Reach him at irishhiker@aol.com.