At the polar ends of the Earth, spring's first day is hard to miss.
In the north, the sun finally peeks above the horizon after six dark months, circling barely above the landscape as it creeps up.
It's vice versa at the South Pole, where the sun slips from sight, swirling away to temporary hiding.
It's light out, or it's dark.
Halder Thompson would appreciate the sort of day-or-night clarity the Sunday equinox brought the poles.
Instead, how the spring melt will go is as muddy as his backyard.
"I'm tired of waking up in the middle of the night wondering what I'm going to do," said Thompson, one of a half-dozen homeowners still living on Forest River Road south of Fargo, a flood-prone road mostly emptied through buyouts.
Those who live in crest's reach of a river will have to wait longer after a storm carrying up to a foot or more of snow hits starting today, a sloppy mix to be followed by below-freezing temperatures the rest of the week.
National Weather Service forecasters won't have new flood predictions until Friday or Saturday, giving them time to calculate the storm's effect.
The two weeks previous had been about perfect for melting purposes. It was warm enough to shrink snow, but cold enough to avoid flowing - a Crock-Pot on the lowest setting.
But the prospect of more moisture and frozen days, likely pushing the melt in to April, caused enough 3 a.m. bolts from bed that Thompson finally had to get to work on Saturday.
It had been a long time coming. He'd been snowblowing a circle around his house since January in anticipation, hoping to avoid building his dike on frozen land.
Thompson was still at it Monday, aiming to stack 10,000 sandbags around his house before the storm hit. He feels better knowing the dike is in place, especially because of the melt's delay.
"You never know what will happen in April," he said.
Darrin Tonsfeldt, director of The Village Business Institute and Fargo Counseling Services, said that's the best way for people in harm's way to handle the inherent stress of waiting.
"Let's do the things we can," he said. "Worry is just a waste of energy."
Not everybody worried about the flood has a bull to grab by the horns.
Al Martin has lived at 52 6th Ave. N. in Fargo for 40 years, and his home has never flooded. He can walk to the end of his street in a big flood and peer over a city-built dike at a peaking Red River, but he feels high and dry enough that he hasn't bought flood insurance.
Yet he often thinks about the looming flood as a clay truck rumbles past.
"It's always in the back of your mind, that's for sure," Martin said.
Tonsfeldt said general anxiety, more a lingering concern than dread, can be common. The best thing to do is to keep up your regular routine, all the normal activities in life - working out, family time, the stuff that nourishes and relaxes.
What's the alternative? No one knows what the flood will bring. No one can fast forward to the end.
"It'd be great if you could, but that's not our life," Martin said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535