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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bracing for spring

JA took his snow tires off last week. I took my heavy coat to the cleaner. But it probably would have made no difference. Springtime’s heady launch of seventy-degree days and bright sunshine last week was just a tease, as we should have known. Today, the rain is cold, threatening to turn to a right wicked nor’easter by twilight. Six to twelve inches of white, fluffy nor’easter.

When spring comes to northern Vermont, it stuns the senses. But we are not there yet. We are not even barely done with winter, the calendar to the contrary.

For all the years I lived in New York City, my mother thought it funny to call me in February to gloat about how her Georgia daffodils were already up. This year, she took pity on me and sent by express mail branches of forsythia, spirea, and flowering quince. They brightened my living room for a few exotic days, but any hope I cherished that spring would soon bring flowers to my front yard...well, not quite yet.

I love the seasons of Vermont. When I first moved here, I was terrified by winter’s killing cold. People die here if they are not careful. But then people die from hurricane and flood, heat as well as cold, victims of a natural world that is not so much cruel as heedless. When it comes to nature, we are very small. Now I love to burrow in with my wood fires, or take off across white fields on snowshoes, the puppy romping through snowdrifts like an otter.

We haven’t really had much winter this year. Not much snow, and—thank heaven!—not so much of the subzero temperatures that try patience. The essence of enjoying a four-season location is teetering in suspense between grieving winter and joyful anticipation of spring. A little more snow would be just fine, but I am pleased to see the daffodils in my yard are a good three inches tall.

It has been so warm that I wonder if the forsythia and crabapples might actually bloom this year. Most years the buds are frozen, and we skip right over the golden and pink blossoms to fresh, new, green leaves. Maybe this year, we will have more flowers, but if not, the dandelions will soon be along to brighten green meadows. Spring will come, as it does every year, and we will soon be loopy with feverish delight.


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