Saturday, April 10, 2010

Springtime in Michigan

I'm in Kalamazoo this weekend, doing a series of training workshops for students at Western Michigan University (they've asked for power, delegation, facilitation, membership, and conflict—pretty much a full smörgåsbord).

When I left home in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday (to catch the 6:12 choo choo out of Quincy IL), the sky was clear and spring was raging ahead after being delayed by winter's reluctant departure from the Midwest. You could almost watch tree buds and flowers open up as warmth surged back into the soil. I debated whether to bring my fleece vest on this trip or not. Temperatures the past two weeks had been steadily pleasant, even flirting with the low 80s on occasion (which is showing off this early in the season), and who needs to schlep extra clothing? Given that it was only 40 degrees at dawn in Quincy, I decided at the last moment to bring the vest, and I was plenty glad I did when I arrived in Kalamazoo.

While the trees here are in early leaf (offering smudges of chartreuse to contrast jauntily with the browns and grays that had dominated the winter palette), the temperatures were retro—a throwback to late February. In town, the Bradford pears and cherries were decked out in dress whites and the grape hyacinth was out in numbers (just like in Missouri), yet spring was in a state of suspended animation. There was a weak sun trying to poke out of scudding clouds and remnants of two days of steady rain occasionally shifted back into wet snow flurries.

In the north, spring just takes a little longer and its progress is more sketchy. Though Kalamazoo is located smack in the middle of southwestern Michigan—the garden spot for the wolverine state—Michigan is still a northern state, and Mother Nature was just sending a reminder.

On the good side, cold weather tends to help with workshop attendance. As the pale locals, antsy to break their winter hibernation, are not so anxious to be doing vitamin D therapy in a blustery 40 degrees, they are more content to sit in a warm room and be regaled by the raconteur from Missouri.

Working with students, trying to instill in them excitement about terra forming cooperative culture, is one of the more fun things I get to do as a traveling consultant. I gives me hope for the future. Just as there's potential of the summer to come in Michigan Aprils, there's the hint of better days ahead in today's inquisitive youth.

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