Looking outside, Kalamazoo is in the middle of winter. Icicles hang from the eaves and snow blankets the ground. Plowed snowbanks are still shoulder-high. But, there are some clues that Winter is ending: longer days, milder temperatures, and more sun.
Buckets on maple trees are the truest sign of Spring. The buckets collect sap used to produce maple syrup. Warm afternoons and below-freezing nights cause sap to flow, so even though it feels like winter the trees are awakening.
I teach economics at Kalamazoo College. My wife is also an economist. We were on sabbatical in Europe for the 2014-15 academic year. (Salamanca, Spain, followed by Oxford, UK.) We were in Uruguay for the 2006-7 academic year.