Springtime in the Midwest is a godsend. Every year, the inhabitants of the flatlands thank the sun and sigh in relief as the earth sheds the snow and it leaks deep into the dirt. No matter how barren and ugly the land, regardless of the muddy patches and the dead, soaked grass, all eyes scan the ground for snow and take a breath again only when none is to be found. Clouds roll fat across the sky, huge peaks that lumber away and back again full of rain. There is no more hopeful time and place anywhere than spring in the Midwest, and it is unlike anywhere else on earth. Winter is dreary and hopeful for us, miles of flattened cornrows covered in harsh snow. Those who haven't survived a winter here have no idea what it is like to straggle through the heavy tired months in the breadbasket, these plains that sleep so long forever. No landscape to decorate, no city lights, just run down strip malls and residential areas blanketed with not just snow but the frost that precedes it, & the cold, wet winds that twist through all cracks. We survive based on the hope that we will see the grass again and not prepare for each outdoors excursion as though gearing for an Arctic outing.