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Not just spring, sandbagging could be the root of love as well

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wave Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Spring is here, and love is in the air.

Babysitting last week, an unfathomably sweet 2-year-old boy swept me off my feet -- which are at least five times bigger than his -- with a kiss on the cheek. When our evening was nearly at its end, he asked if he could come home with me. Although I felt this was slightly too forward for our first meeting, it was pretty much adorable. Ah, young love at its youngest!

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What makes spring the season of love? Look outside, and you'll discover that...the connection is sketchy at best, debatably nonexistent at worst. There's snow on the ground, but it isn't the soft, sparkling snow that invited snow angels and snowmen and snowball fights a few months ago (or was it weeks? It all begins to blur after the second and third times one has dug out her mittens within the month of March).

It's the dirty, ugly sort of snow that won't melt and leaves icky, grimy chunks frozen to the undersides of cars and scattered in random patches in yards trying to turn green. Flowers dare not poke up from the ground for fear of frost, a fear that will keep them cautious on into May, as summer perennials shun those foolish enough to attempt popping up now.

Maybe spring means love in Florida or Cancun or wherever MTV's hosting its spring break this year, but certainly not in Minnesota.

Right?

Up until last week, I wouldn't have thought you could see love in dirty snow or pounding rain...or sandbags and overflowing rivers.

Guess I would've been wrong.

I met an older woman a week ago while filling sandbags at MSUM who told me, as matter-of-fact as I have ever heard anyone speak, "We're homeless right now."

Oh.

I asked her where she was staying, and she said she had a son living in a dry area of Fargo. "We spent the night there, and we spend the day here," she stated.

She was so casual, so accepting of the fact that her home could very plausibly be flooded within days. This woman told jokes and heaved bags and chatted pleasantly and effortlessly.

A woman, probably mid-30s, sat down near a pile of sandbags in need of tying, offered sticks of gum all around, and talked about her drive up from Minneapolis the day before, emphasizing her husband's snoring in the hotel room they stayed at on the way.

"How long will you stay up here?" someone queried.

This was Friday. "Maybe to Monday," she replied, hands busy knotting. After a moment, she stopped knotting and spoke again, a decided sort of afterthought: "As long as it takes."

I know you haven't seen anything on the news or heard anything on the radio or read anything in the paper or talked about anything at the doctor's office for the past two weeks that didn't have to do with flooding in the F-M area. This isn't an attempt to bore you (although it may succeed in doing so); we all know that nothing brings people together like emergency and disaster and loss.

But there was something really beautiful in being surrounded by people lumpy with winter layers and gritty with sand and sweaty with effort, chatting about their jobs or schools or spouses or children, laboring without any thought to complaint or despair or assumed obligation.

Hopefully, you know exactly what I'm trying (and very possibly failing) to say, because you've been there, too, be it at the Red River or in a friend's flooded living room or at somebody's side.

There is no season for love. Spring doesn't represent friendship and compassion and selflessness and understanding any more than any day or month or hour. Pass me a sandbag and I'll show you.

Thressa Johnson is a senior at Detroit Lakes High School.

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