Just as I struggled with whether to post the expected-and-cliched-yet-still-gorgeous fall foliage photos this past autumn, I had a REALLY HARD TIME deciding whether to write the inevitable post about spring in Vermont. I’m not sure why this is such a hurdle for me; it’s not like anybody who visits this site is expecting edgy, heavy-hitting reportage. But I love to write, I try to write what I hope will be new and fresh things, and it’s SO difficult to come up with anything about spring that doesn’t sound like a Hallmark card.
You know: spring at the end of a long winter, new life, rebirth, trees budding, flowers blooming, the spirit awakening. Blah blah blah.
IT’S ALL TRUE! AND SPRING IS HERE! IT’S FINALLY HERE! AND IT’S WONDERFUL!!!!! YEEEE-HAAAAAW!
All done. Thank you.
So, clearly, since I’ve already typed 130 words, I’m going to go ahead and tackle spring. Because life is so much about the weather, and this blog is about life, ergo: spring.
The interesting thing I’ve noticed about spring this year is that it seems to be more sensory than meteorological. It’s surprised me just how happy we’ve ALL been to see spring come, because we never really had a winter. But even though the weather itself may not be as dramatically different as it will be in future years, you still feel the difference in all of your senses. Spring is there in the quality of the light, the smells in the air, the feeling of the earth under your feet. And for the first time — bear with me here — I really can feel the season change flowing through my veins, like my own sap is finally thawed. No kidding. I guess that’s why they call it “spring fever.”
On one of the first days that felt like Spring — an unseasonably warm Wednesday in early March — Fiona’s preschool class took a long walk across the Middlebury River and into the woods, searching for “signs of spring.” (I love that the “signs of spring” she told us about later included “maple syrup buckets.” It’s true: here in Vermont, early spring is sugaring season, and the syrup collecting buckets are latched on to maple trees everywhere). Here are a few other “signs of spring” in our Vermont life:
–We’re back at the park! Unlike in the Bay Area, where we could go to the playground year-round, in Vermont the playground is a seasonal thing. Although the best playground in town is just down the street from us, the last time we were able to go there was in October. This past month, we’ve been back! And, let me tell you, it’s GREAT to have another activity to rotate in with our tired winter options.
-Facial hair is disappearing! Another seasonal thing in these parts: facial hair. Aside from my husband, who is physically unable to grow a beard due to a follicular condition called, I believe, “Asian-ness,” many Vermont men sport full beards starting in November. But there must have been some sort of grooming memo sent out over the past few weeks, because all of a sudden, the beards are gone.
–Some days, we don’t wear coats! I still keep our coats piled in the back seat, because you never know when the temperature is going to suddenly drop below 50. And I’ve not yet made the drastic move of switching over our mudroom gear to spring/summer attire. Vermont spring is a season with an identity crisis — it’s kind of like the brunch of seasons, as I have to explain to the girls when they want to wear flip flops on chilly, drizzly days “because it was HOT yesterday!” BUT there have been days when the girls went outside with no coats AND bare legs!
–The gulls are migrating! I’m not much of a birder, so a bird has to be pretty large and loud for me to notice their migration. I noticed the geese in the fall. Now, it’s the seagulls. I first noticed the gulls one weekend when I took a solo grocery shopping trip. I heard them before I saw them; as I stepped out of the car, I actually wondered, “WHY are my daughters running around in the parking lot?” I peered around the other cars, and that’s when I saw them: not my daughters, but an entire empty corner of the parking lot was absolutely covered in gulls. (Which tells you a lot about the general noise level in our house). Since then, I’ve seen fields full of gulls all around town. Which is odd, because Vermont is pretty far from the coast. I did a little research, and it turns out that they’re migrating through here up to their summer breeding grounds in Canada.
-Tractors and joggers have replaced snowplows on the roads! While we never saw many official snowplows in action this winter, people were still prepared with snowplows attached to the fronts of their trucks. Well, now those plows have disappeared, and I’m back to sharing the roads with farm equipment, tractors, and joggers. I still can’t quite get over living in a place where it’s not unusual to see a combine harvester driving down the street. As a suburban kid, I want to gawk and point and yell, “Look at that! An ACTUAL FARMER!” The joggers, of course, aren’t quite as novel. I think they’re mostly college students, because they tend to be young, beautiful, and jogging near the college.
-Woody is being phased out! Our beloved wood stove is winding down his work for the year. Lately, we’ve only had to run Woody occasionally at night. While in some ways it’s sad to lose this warm and cozy fixture in our living room, it makes my life a lot easier to not have to stoke the fire every hour and haul in wood daily. (During my less gracious moments, I have been known to call Woody “my fourth child”).
–We’re preparing for the next round of home improvements! Oh yes! We’ve come full circle through the Vermont seasons: summer, foliage season, ski season, mud season, and now back to: contractor season! Once again, we’ll be stimulating the local economy this summer with projects like painting the entire exterior of our house. We learned through experience last year that if we want these projects completed by the time ski season rolls around again, we need to get the ball rolling NOW.
Also there are buds on the trees, green shoots poking up from the ground, robins in our front yard. It’s glorious, and we’re trying to soak it all in…because any second now, the ticks and mosquitoes are going to descend.