The Photography of D L Ennis, and more!


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Crane sightings

The daffodils are up—I know, old news for those of you further down the Appalachian ridgeline—and fields are being spread with manure, both true signs of spring. Driving to Burlington yesterday, though, I saw another sign that spring has come: cranes. Not birds, the big ones that launch a construction project.

Long winters with frozen earth leave us with a short construction season. Projects are planned in infinitesimal detail so that when the snow goes, crews can fling themselves into action. Yesterday on my drive to Burlington and back, I saw an entire building’s steel carapace that had sprung up, and then a bridge for the interstate’s southbound lanes that was gone. Startling.

The season can stretch as far as Thanksgiving, all depending on the judgments of the construction professionals who have been watching these seasons turn their whole lives. Last November, I squeezed in under the wire to have excavation work done, but I was counseled not to try such a risky move again. November is too late to move around growing things, which will not have a chance to recover before the snow comes again. Excavation is serious business, and one much take care of the thatch. Remedial work in the spring will likely be required.

Vermont’s clean, crisp outline is partly due to this annual cleansing by ice, helped along by summer mowing. Right now authorities are sounding brush fire warnings, but in a couple of weeks there will be enough moist, verdant vegetation to moderate the risk.

Having lived at both ends, I love all the variants of Appalachian spring. There is nothing in austere, chilly Vermont to compare with the exuberant lushness of a Southern spring. But I do enjoy the length of the seasons here. I love finding new ways that this sometimes harsh climate affects the rhythm of life—like seeing cranes and construction crews burst into activity. I love watching for the snow to go, seeing the hills gradually get green, waiting for perennials to poke shoots toward the sun. In August (so soon!) there is a day when we all feel the weather turn toward fall, but right now we are watching for the dandelions that will soon sprinkle the green hillsides.


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