Archive for March, 2016

Mar 31 2016

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Nature’s Spoilers

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virusMy big plans to take advantage of spring’s early arrival were confounded by the smallest biological entity. I came down with the flu a week ago. Yessir, big old brainy me, Homo sapiens, dropped by a mere virus – something that doesn’t have a single living cell to call its own.

Flu season is peaking late in Vermont, or so I’ve been told. I haven’t really been paying attention. You see, I got a flu shot last fall so I had nothing to worry about. Anyway, I started sneezing last Thursday – what I thought was book dust – and landed on my back a couple days later. I ended up in the doctor’s office yesterday, getting meds to fight a secondary infection.

Why do viruses exist? What purpose do they serve in the grand scheme of things that we call Nature? They’re just puny protein packets hellbent on replicating at someone else’s expense – the punks of the universe. From my higher-life-form worldview, they’re no damned good. But there are strains of bacteria, like the ones throwing a party in my lungs right now, that see things differently. My loss is their gain.

The fact that I’m even having these thoughts is a sure sign that I’m feeling better. Hooray for antibodies – the proteins wearing white hats! And antibiotics, too! Soon I’ll be on my feet again and taking a long hike somewhere. As far as my dog Matika is concerned, that day can’t come soon enough. Staying indoors all day is not her idea of fun.



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Mar 16 2016

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An Early Spring

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early iris shootsWhen I first spotted robins last week, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not until I saw their bright orange bellies up close did I welcome them back. Even then I thought perhaps they’d come back too soon. This is the North Country after all. It’s not unusual for us to get hit with sub-zero temps or a blizzard this time of year.

Yes, I’ve been enjoying the above-average temps this month, and I’m not sad to see the snow melt away. I’ve hiked trails recently that were more mud than frozen ground. But a part of me has remained in winter mode. That is, until I saw them.

A couple days ago, I spotted green shoots pushing up in my garden. Oh sure, the hearty lilies next to my house have been up for quite some time now. They scoff at frost and snow. But the green shoots that have arisen in my garden are something else. They’re early spring irises that usually don’t appear until April.

That did it. After seeing those shoots, I put away my winter coat. I like to spend a night in the mountains in April, as soon as the snow up to fifteen hundred feet is gone. Now I’m thinking I might be able to do that before the end of this month.

Springtime catches me off guard. I’m lost in thought this time of year so the first whiff of unthawed earth on a fifty-degree day always comes as something of a surprise. That said, I can’t remember the season ever starting this early. Not that I’m complaining.


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Mar 08 2016

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A Hint of Spring

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March trailI awoke this morning to light coming through the window, and saw a starling at the bird feeder while I was getting breakfast. After reworking a short narrative about hiking in early spring, I could no longer contain myself. I did the bare minimum work necessary to keep my book business going then flew out the door with Matika’s leash in hand. She came running after me, all smiles.

Temps had reached into the mid-40s by the time my dog and I stepped onto the icy trail at Niquette Bay State Park only half an hour from home. A mile out, I stripped off my light jacket and hiked in shirtsleeves as the dusting of snow on the trail underfoot melted away. Two miles out, the frozen mud began to thaw. It was a wonderful thing to behold.

A crow called out in the otherwise quiet woods. I looked up to see patches of blue in a mostly grey sky. The trees were motionless in the still air. I stopped frequently during the hike just to groove on the snowless forest all around me. It was a wonderful thing to behold.

Is it still winter? Do I dare think of this as the beginning of an earlier-than-usual spring? It’s a hint of spring to be sure, and for that I am grateful. I am a creature of the warmer months. I’ve done enough winter ruminating already. So bring it on! Tomorrow, I hear, is going to be a surprisingly warm day. I can’t wait.


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