Archive for March, 2012

Mar 26 2012

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Here in northern Vermont, we awoke to a dusting of snow today. It is ever so slight and will burn off by mid-morning, no doubt. Yet it comes as something of a shock to us after a week of summerlike temperatures.

I go out and check the bright green shoots of my day lilies to see how they are doing. The warmth from the plants has already melted the snow clinging to their leaves, so my lilies take it as a watering. Had the temperature dropped a little lower overnight, there might have been a little browning along the edges and tips of them. All the same, they would have survived – if not this wave of green shoots then certainly the next one. Lilies, as delicate as they may seem, are hard to kill.

I marvel at the resilience of early spring flora and fauna. If a little misfortune comes their way after the promise of an easy start to the season, they bounce right back. Oh sure, they take a hit, and some individual plants and animals are hit hard, but collectively they survive. In fact, setbacks are expected. They are built to withstand them. I admire that.

The other day my sewer line broke. Suddenly the nasty stuff was ankle deep in my basement, my yard had to be dug up, and I had to shell out a hefty sum to have the pipe replaced. A hit, no doubt, but I’m trying to take it like a day lily. Life is full of setbacks, I tell myself. The big question is: how well do we weather them?

Some hits are so hard there is no quick and easy recovery. That’s what we are alluding to when we use words like “crisis” or “disaster.” The word “apocalypse” means there is no recovery at all. Yet Nature with a capital “N” persists even when a meteor hits the planet, taking out the dinosaurs. It’s all just a matter of degree, I suppose, of individual perspective.

I wish I were more resilient. I take my setbacks hard. That said, I watch carefully how everything comes back to life in the spring and am deeply impressed by it. No, not just impressed – I’m inspired. Nature says there is no such thing as a hopeless situation and, even in my darkest moments, I’m inclined to believe it.


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Mar 19 2012

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Early Spring Hike

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Judy kicked me out of the house yesterday, telling me that I badly needed to go for a hike in the woods. I didn’t argue. I was exhausted from yet another week of burning the candle at both ends but recognized the therapeutic power of getting outdoors. So I grabbed my pack and went. Matika was right on my heels, of course.

With the snow completely gone in the Champlain Valley and temps soaring into the 70s, there was no denying the outbreak of spring. The brown countryside I drove through looked more like March than April. What the heck, why not take advantage of the situation? I headed for the mountains.

The logging road I hiked up was soft and muddy – easy on my tired feet. I plodded along conserving what little energy I had. Matika, on the other hand, was all over the place sniffing about and running wildly. Silly dog.

I crept past a closed gate, some maple syrup lines and a blown beaver pond. Hardly any snow on the ground for the first mile, but that changed quickly once I crossed the Smith Brook, entering a copse of hemlocks. There the snow cover was patchy. A few minutes later I crossed the brook a second time, reaching the retreating edge of winter. I stopped for lunch. No point going any farther uphill.

Robin, fly, butterfly. At 1200 feet the natural world wasn’t exactly teeming with life, but the first signs of spring were apparent all the same. The murky brook was half full of runoff. Remnant moss and ferns offered green hope. The bright sun blazing through naked trees gave the forest a surreal look. I soaked it all in while slouching against a tree, daydreaming.

A handful of snow rubbed across my sweaty brow. A splash of mud on my pants as Matika raced past. And the raw, distinct smell of the earth awakening. That’s all I needed to celebrate the Spring Equinox a little in advance. The world this time of year is supposed to be stark, almost barren, stripped down to essentials. I expected nothing else. So the robins singing loudly later on at dusk came as a pleasant surprise.


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Mar 12 2012

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Lakeside Ramble

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With the sun shining through a cloudless sky and temps climbing into the 40s, Judy suggested that we go for a short walk along the shoreline at Kill Kare State Park. I agreed that we should get out and do something. I was exhausted from working all week while harboring some kind of respiratory virus but knew it wasn’t mentally healthy to stay indoors all day. Besides, a ramble along the lake wouldn’t be that taxing.

We brought the “chuck it” device to whip the dog’s ball inland while we walked. Matika badly needed the exercise. For obvious reasons, she doesn’t get out enough when I’m sick.

I saw a robin grazing on the snow-free lawn right before we headed out. I refrained from making too much of it. Yes, it’s starting to look and feel like spring but, as Judy reminded me, it’s still winter here in Vermont. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

A solitary fisherman sat on the punky ice, seemingly oblivious to the pressure cracks and open leads of water nearby. Better him than me. I stepped onto a sheet of ice along the shoreline, felt it give, then stepped back.

Good thing we were wearing our winter jackets. A chilling breeze whipped across the half frozen lake in stark contrast to the warming sun overhead. Mixed signals. Yeah, it’s that time of year.

I looked for some hint of fresh vegetation pushing up through the barren ground but found nothing. The buds of a few hardwoods were swollen, though.  It’s coming, slow but sure.  Patience, patience.

Judy and I didn’t talk much during our short walk, yet there passed between us a few knowing glances.  Not quite spring but it still felt good to get outside. Good enough for now, anyhow.


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