My son Ellis likes to remind me that it is "early spring." I think he does this to comfort himself because there are still no flowers, green grass, or friends riding scooters up and down the block yet. With the temperature climbing to 50 today, it seemed like the right time to return to Fort Snelling if only to prove that we have indeed survived another winter. When you've been so desperate to get through the cold weather, the pale browness of early spring can be anti-climactic at best, or at worst, the cruel April of T.S. Eliot's Wasteland. Or, if you have learned to love a place enough that you inhabit it like a marriage with all its warts and scars, you appreciate the muted quiet potential of the land after the thaw. The plain brown female bird with her potential to create life is as beautiful as the brighter plumaged male bird.