Franny looked up from her keyboard and squinted.
A beam of sunshine entered her apartment through the window, slanted low, aglow with the promise of actual warmth.
Snow still covered the rooftops and yards on Pine Street; ice crystals glittered in the breakthrough of sunlight. Winter had lingered this year, with a late punch of blizzards that seemed unending. The energy on Pine Street turned anxious and edgy. People were irritable and dogs misbehaved out of boredom. A daylong break would bring out the people and dogs, slogging across berms of snow and ice left by the plows, and then the next storm would chase them all back inside.
This sunbeam felt different, somehow. Franny went to the window to be closer to it, to absorb its warmth. In a fit of madness, judging by the lingering ice, she threw the window open and took a deep breath.
As she coughed out the cold air, she heard birdsong. A group of robins hopped about, eating the last lingering fruit on the ornamental pear tree in front of her building, creating mini snowfalls as they landed on laden branches.
A single small cloud moved to block the sun, casting her apartment back into darkness, and sending a chill down her spine. Franny closed the window, turning back to her computer, ready to pick up where she left off in the chapter she was writing.
But something changed in the five minutes the sunbeam had flooded her apartment, and she knew what it was.
The smell of cold air had changed, no longer full of the imminent arrival of more snow. It held an undertone of green, of growth, of newness.
The song of the robins was not the desperate calling to one another to help find the last source of food. It sounded of celebration, of hope.
Even the cloud that had blocked the sun looked different.
Franny felt it in her bones. She pulled on boots and threw on a coat, and headed out of doors.
Spring was not here, and it was not even around the corner, but it was coming. It would bring the warmth of the sun, and the winds of change.
Franny walked, dodging snow dropping from tree limbs, toward the lingering light in the west, until it completely disappeared.