Introducing Sprinter (spring + winter), the Season You’ve Been Waiting For

[Sunshine + snowpack.]
People in Minnesota always say that "spring is so short here."

They also always say, with a resigned air, "Oh woe is me! We have six months of winter."

Many people wear these seasonal affectations like paper bags on their heads. In the grips of the seemingly endless winter, they wilt and feign helplessness. They insist they cannot do anything like ride bicycles, sit on patios, play football out of doors, or leave the banal containment of the downtown skyway system from November through May.

Of course that’s not true, but one of the problems I think we face as a northern (albeit rapidly warming) society is that we assume that because it *might/probably-will* snow at some point in April or November, that therefore winter lasts that long also. This kind of attitude subsumes all seasonal variation within a six-month period into once overarching and oppressive seasonal concept — “winter" — that to the untrained eye looks homogeneous and bleak and therefore sends otherwise reasonable people into a cycle of place-based self-loathing that leads invariably to seasonal affective disorders, anti-social architectural escapism, and misguided flights to Florida.

It's sad. But it doesn't have to be this way...

Listen friend, have I got a concept for you! It’s a brand new season that has already existed your whole life,  but you didn’t have a name for it yet.

It’s called Sprinter!

[Sprinter is when all these lines get tangled up at once.]
Sprinter is spring + winter, and it's the season that begins with the first 50º day and lasts until the final bit of snow or sleet-type precipitation.

Like an actual fast-moving runner, sprinter comes at you fast and can be fleeting. But it’s a meaningful, distinct season that exists in Minnesota and helps us understand the fine-grained stuff happening in between actual winter (defined as mostly below-freezing temps) and actual spring (defined as when leaves and flowers appear out of the trees and ground).

Here are some hallmarks of sprinter season.
  • Mud! Lots of mud. In some communities, sprinter is also known as “mud season.” The earthy sickly-sweet smell of mud surrounds you in sprintertime, and you grow to love it in the way that a farmer loves the smell of manure or an old man loves the smell of his farts. It’s a sign that things are alive and working properly.
  • Heavy snow. I mean this literally, in the quality vs. quantity sense, where any snow that falls has a lot of moisture content and is heavy. Thundersnow might also be a thing that happens here.
  • Melting snow. The drips and drops of snow are all around you, forming into sidewalk ice flows and piles of snirt (snow + dirt). The constant dripping and evaporation fills the air with a crisp kind of cold humidity that’s sort of exciting, especially in contrast with…
  • Warm sunshine. Unlike in actual winter, the sprintertime sun warms your skin and you can legit get a sunburn in sprinter like I did at the Minnesota United home opener this weekend. The contrast between the still-existing snow and the warm sun is the hallmark of sprinter weather. 
  • Uneven landscapes. The “warm side” of streets that get all the south-facing sun are dry but the “cold side” of streets that face northward are full of ice. It’s weird!
  • Teens wearing shorts. Oh those teens!
  • Other things? Feel free to leave them in the comments.

Sprinter is what we need. They have more than four seasons in other places (e.g. Japan’s “rainy season” and India’s “monsoon season” and the Shire’s “second breakfast”). Why not here?

Sprinter is spring + winter and it’s a season for those who feel trapped in the eternal slog of wintertime and calendars and whatnot. Embrace sprinter, for it has already embraced you. Get out and ride your bike, bask in the warmth of the midday sun, and go on walks on the sunny sides of streets.

Sprinter moves fast, so enjoy it while it lasts!

[This kid gets it!]

1 comment:

Elliot Novak said...

Smell that geosmin! I look forward to it every Sprinter.