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Today the temperature is predicted to reach almost 50. For Wisconsin in February, that’s a rare treat. Any Midwesterner knows that this isn’t the real spring, just a preview of coming attractions, a teaser. But, it’s a bright, sunny day — a good day for a walk, notice the birds, and think about the coming year, not just clean the road-crud out of the garage. There’s a little smell of mud in the air, which makes me hope that the real spring is only about a month away, that soon we can peel off the layers, stretch, and open the windows.

I remember a passage from Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, where Pecola is walking home from school on a similar false-spring day. She and her friend have balanced their coats up on to their heads, so they’re not really wearing them, but they don’t have to carry them either. I remember many walks home from school, doing the same thing, enjoying the warm-ish breeze.

Me at 3

Me at 3

The main theme of The Bluest Eye, is the cultural ideal of beauty (blonde, blue-eyed, white) shown through Pecola’s obsession with her Shirley Temple mug and her relationship with her distant mother and abusive father. Many girls felt (still feel?) the pain of not looking like the ideal. Although not as overt or racist, my red hair, green eyes, and freckles made my looks exceptional. As a child, all you want is to fit in and be accepted. Once an adult, I understood and came to prize my rare coloring, as I know Ms. Morrison came to value hers, too.