The Drama of It All

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March is usually snowstorms and mud, mud and snowstorms but this March has been warmth, thaw, and mud. I have not kept track but it seems we have had warm weather for the past three or so weeks, with a few high wind storms thrown in to keep us honest. In the beginning of this month, we had about three feet up here, the result of two back-to-back storms but since then, I have watched the snow recede from the window beside my desk like a tide going out. I can smell the mucky earth coming forth and watch the ice rot. Some days, I have gone out for walks without a jacket, which feels free and easy, a reward well-earned. My dogs run as if given new life. I never want to rush this time of year. Like coming to the end of a good book, I tend to want to slow it down, move slowly through the warming days.

But so many have cut and run from all this. A friend sent me a photo from her timeshare in Cancun: turquoise sky meets azure sea, a tall palm tree and peach-colored beach umbrellas the only objects in the big blue expanse. Looking at that scene, I could feel the sun on my bare skin, smell the salt air and the coconut lotion, and hear the surf roll indolently up on shore. It all looked so tranquil. And I heard today from a friend who ordinarily lives nearby but who has spent the better part of this winter in California and Florida. She says she has decided that spending the winter in warm and forgiving climates is quite nice indeed. I guess she has plenty of company, as the population in places like that swells sometimes ten and twentyfold during the cold months. So she is not alone in her sentiment. She writes of the easy pace, the sense of peace there, and, she continues on, as if to convince me: “If you are a person who enjoys reading, movies, sitting with a stack of books by the pool, and a good Sunday brunch at the country club, then it is quite nice indeed. The fact that my parents’ house is wide open to the outdoors and perched at the edge of a broad canal creates a sense of air and sky and space. All day, the light pours in; the sliders are open; it is like living outdoors. There are fish flopping and pelicans perching on the dock and herons stalking through the yard. I wake up in the dark, and work for a bit, go to the health club down the road to exercise, do yoga by the pool, read a lot.”

It all sounds idyllic. There must be something wrong with me but I can’t be sold. For one thing, I couldn’t bear to be gone that long, to miss the tiny increments that move us toward spring. We have gotten through Town Meeting. Throughout the long weeks of Lent, I rehearse, with the church choir, the joyful songs of Easter and we look forward to sharing that day of — renewal together. And, of course, like hungry pilgrims searching the horizon for land, we all notice the little signs of spring, and cry out the news. Crocuses in a lawn in Keene. Daylilies emerging around my foundation. One friend tells of all the robins who seem to have “come out of nowhere, so suddenly.” I’ve observed the bobolinks returning soon they will be nesting in the hayfield. I have heard the soulful, two-note cry of the redwing blackbird, always the first call of my spring and, most celebratory, the return of the bluebirds.

There is always so much at this time of year to keep me busy. My woodpile is down to the point where I start making bets with myself if there will be any left over (which means I will have to move it out of the way so I can use the porch for summer) or if I will run out and have to use the oil burner. I like it when it comes out just right, which it sometimes does. (That whole process, by the way, has a dual purpose, not just the resultant heat but bringing in the wood, a daily chore, is a combination of squats, weight-lifting, and curls. And the air is better than what it must be like inside the health club.)

The snow is almost gone but they are talking about a possible snowstorm next week. It’s been such a mild winter, I say, let it snow, I haven’t quite had my fill. And a spring snowstorm never lasts very long. I do have a stack of books here, towering in fact, waiting for me to read them. The mild winter deprived us of those luxurious snow days, nothing to do but bake beans and stay home and read. So I am way behind. I don’t know. One warm day after the next, the unbroken azure sky, pelicans perching, herons stalking. It all sounds nice, nice to think about, but I’d sooner here, mud, sleet, wind, whatever, each day different and the drama of it all.

  • We had no snow at all, not even ONE snowflake all winter long! We missed having a couple of light snows, but we are not interested in shoveling or traffic snags in heavy snow. We like 2-3 very light snowfalls in winter, just enough to cover us in a white blanket and make us think we are in the midst of a cold winter’s day! Now that spring is here we’re happy with the sunshine and breezy air and want no part of a late snowfall. We don’t want our colorful landscape obscured in the least! Southern CA or FL would be nice for a few weeks in winter or maybe even early spring, but too much later finds it too hot for us. No sauna bath weather for these Pacific Northwesterners!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Jacki. It’s true that none of us live in paradise all year long. Though I’ve never lived through it, I know what you mean about the long hot summers. But it’s the contrasts that give us the joy when we reach the point of perfection, that balancing point of each season. I suppose there are a few places on earth that do not experience the gradations of the seasons, which lacks drama, among other things. And there are some privileged few who hop around the globe so that they never have to experience the hard seasons, the long cold spring, the muggy months of heat and humidity, the wintry winds. That seems enviable in the mind’s eye and yet it seems to me you can’t truly appreciate the spring you describe without living through the heat, just as it’s hard to appreciate those tiny harbingers of our change in seasons without having lived through the storms and deep snows. It’s all a matter of perspective. Most New Englanders believe you have to be punished a bit before you can righteously indulge in pleasure. I guess I’m one of those.

  • well Edie, I just read your “drama story”. I have lived and still live that Florida lifestyle your friends talked about. It is a bitter sweet drama of it’s own. the weather is so beautiful and i love the birds coming out. the doves will lay their eggs in my hanging flower baskets. Spring always brings the clean freshness of new beginnings. I love the smell of fresh cut grass. I envy your lifestyle. that’s why I read your blog. i feel myself being more and more drawn back to NE. If you or your friends have ever been here in the stalled heat of summer, you can relate. Last year I was sure I wasn’t going to make it through. I try to appreciate every presious day of spring and brace myself for the long hot days ahead It’s really only June-November but those five months seem like a year. I get all my outside work done in the spring and then hibernate all summer. I guess we all crave what we can’t have.


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