Winter in Vermont doesn’t really end in March. That happens sometime in mid-May after a last coating of snow, but in April, just when cabin fever seems like it’s getting critical, we do get signs of hope.
Most years, our first sign of hope has been the email from the Little League coach announcing the first practice schedule. There’s the tipped over composter as hungry bears wake and begin their neighborhood prowls. There are the signs for announcing community Spring cleanup‘s and Sunday brunches.
Our composter was upside down when we went out to the garden at the beginning of April, but, even if our kids were still playing, there will be no Little League this year. There will be no Easter or Mother’s Day brunches or, possibly, even a Green Up day – Vermont’s statewide, community spring clean up.
This cool, sunny morning, on the day before Easter, however, I went out to the garden inspect my peas and was greeted by vibrant yellow buds about to become daffodils. I’d been waiting for them to appear for weeks and had almost given up hope that they had survived another winter.
In spite of everything, the sun is still shining longer every single day, Mother Nature is still working her daily miracles, the daffodils will still come up, and winter will end.
Working weekends torpedoes your social life, and, when you work at home with most of your work friends in different cities or states your social opportunities are limited to begin with. I compound those factors with a relatively introverted personality — I had almost perfected the shut-in lifestyle before I decided to go back to school to keep my brain from atrophying. So when plans go awry, as they did this weekend, you really feel it. Feelings get spackled over and patched up, but I find what really puts a new coat of paint on the weekend is getting a glimpse of the people and things that make life – shut-in or out-and-aloud — worthwhile.
Thing2, a study in social-butterflying, had his Saturday calendar filled before I knew that someone’s kid had been dropped off. He and his bestie headed out to re-enact their favorite Star Wars battles in the muddy, snow speckled yard. It’s a warmer day – in the fifties, and the boys disappeared into the woods for awhile, reappearing to prove that they were still breathing but dirty, only when I rang the school bell that hangs outside our front door. Katy-the-Wonder-Dog waited for them to tire out and, when they took a break, sitting down on the stoop on the deck, she went over to them to add a few kisses to her social calendar.
I stopped working long enough to appreciate how sometimes just watching that part of the world go by is as satisfying as any day out.
I’m on wheelbarrow load number 10 or 12 full of dirt and fieldstone, Vermont’s unofficial state crop. I’m trying to level out an area where we’re about to put a deck or, rather, where the nice young man who lives at the bottom of the hill is going to build a deck for us.
It’s been hot and sunny all morning, but the clouds are rushing in faster than was predicted this morning. I’m trying to get a few more loads done before rain moves in.
I’m ridiculously out of shape, my belly resembling the shape of the more bulging clouds. I want to get the earth cleared so he can start after the rain, so I keep shoveling and rolling. As I’m pushing load number 14 to the edge of the woods, though, I push pause.
I step outside time and lie down on a pallet of lumber in the middle of the yard. I’m supine on the pallet, and the pregnant purple clouds seem to tumble through the top branches of the trees that border the yard to my bed. I could touch the sky, if I just reach out.
Wind starts to whip across the yard and the first gentle sheets of rain brush my skin, the smell of the rain infusing my brain with spring. The rain cools my sweat, restarting the world of work and to-do’s, but long after the clouds move on, it will still be spring.
To be read in your best Clark W. Griswold voice.