Eager for the thaw

It was a very long and very cold winter and it took the wind out of my sails personally. It’s also been a very long and cold economic season and as a small business owner, it’s taken the wind out of my “sales” as well.

As springtime arrives I’m looking for the usual things that rejuvenate me with optimism and positive energy. Weather-wise, I trust that everything will follow its natural course, days are getting lighter and warmer, flowers are appearing, birds are singing their joyful songs. And not a minute too soon!

But with the bad economic climate, I’m having a difficult time because the birds aren’t really singing yet and I don’t know how well I, or rather how well my sweet little business is going to do until the better season arrives.

I know that for most folks, their primary worry is about losing a job (whether it’s rational or not is irrelevant) but for me, as a business owner, my worries are about making enough to not lay anyone off, to pay my vendors so they can stay in business and meet their payrolls too, and as I said, the birdsong of economic renewal isn’t filling the air … yet. As a Minnesotan, you’ll understand what I mean when I say it feels more like it’s late January/early February on the economic recovery calendar.

And the irony is that I know I have to be one of the singing birds in order to bring on the thaw, but as I wrote to a friend last week, I don’t know what more I can do — to do my part — to make things better.

But sticking with it, I shall. I have a poem posted in our staff dressing room where we keep our many Fairy Godmother gowns and it’s my inspiration right now.

Here’s an excerpt from “To Be of Use” by Marge Piercy:

The people I love the best
jump into work head first …
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again …

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
who stand in line and haul in their place,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when food must come in or the fire be put out.

I will be one of those who moves things forward, who does what has to be done, again and again; I have faith in, and reverence for, everyone else who’s doing it too. And I have tremendous gratitude for those who are stepping up as true leaders, encouraging and prodding us forward. I know that I’m usually one of the “encouragers” but without much wind in my sails right now, the best I can contribute is showing up and joining in the common rhythm.

My husband, when he travels for business, puts a big countdown clock on his home office door which tells us how many days, hours, minutes until he returns home. He does it as a good-dad thing and it works because it’s a reminder of his love, in absentia, and a reassurance that he’ll be home soon.

I know that somewhere there’s a countdown clock that’s ticking off the days to better economic times. I will keep my spirit and my eyes open for the signs of “economic spring” and trust they’ll arrive just like the birdsongs and tulips have.

P.S. In my last column, I mused about what winter name we should have for the snow path we shovel between houses for the mail carrier. Last month a reader stopped by the shop and told me she dubbed it the “mail trail.” What fun!

Terre Thomas lives in Lyndale and owns Fairy Godmother, a gift store in Calhoun Square.