It's an early spring in the North Country!
Birds are trilling their lyrical mating songs. I have been told that the redwinged blackbirds, those famed harbingers of spring, were already warbling their liquid sounding calls a couple of weeks ago, but I haven't heard them yet. I probably will any minute now.
I haven't seen a crocus yet, either.
Maybe I'll spy my first crocus in Pauline and Alden Dumas's front yard. They always have the first.
My friend Genny - the one who has already heard the blackbirds - every year has a big bank of the most beautiful yellow and purple crocus. Or she used to, before the deer blundered onto the bed and decided that they liked the taste of the flowers. For the last couple of years the leaves come up, the buds appear, the flowers barely start of open, and then next morning, all the garden boasts is a lot of deer tracks. Discouraging.
Still, there is evidence to support an early spring. Temperatures have been on the warm side all winter, with more rain than snow, and a good stretch of weather in the 50s and 60s has been predicted. It is so tempting to believe that spring is really here.
After all, sugaring has been underway for some time already. Yes, we did have some snow a week or so ago, but it melted within a day or two. Some people call that sugar snow; they say it makes good fertilizer.
Every year - although usually not this early, not before St. Patrick's day - I let myself believe it's spring. I suppose it's what I want to believe, no matter what my better judgment tells me. There are bound to be glitches, turnarounds, reversals, for at least a month or two, as winter exits, changes his mind, returns, leaves again, realizes he forgot his coat, comes back to get it, stays awhile, leaves again...
But wouldn't it be great?
This year Old Man Winter came to the North Country, but he didn't put his heart into it. Most years, my front door is barricaded by huge drifts, and the land is scenic everywhere you look under its deep blanket of snow. During mud season the blanket is removed, revealing all kinds of things, many of unedifying, that have lain there, hidden, all through the winter months. Snow shovels are found - no, the neighbors did not steal your snow shovel after all, Walter. I told you! loose change, keys and buttons turn up on the sidewalk and in parking lots. Singleton mittens and gloves show up in the gutters; they haven't aged well, compared to their homebody mates. But that's life in the gutter for you. Often, they are well-nigh unrecognizable.
This year, once again, is different. Nothing was ever hidden under a blanket of snow except once or twice, and even then not for long. Mud season doesn't look that different from December, january or February.
I guess I'll just try to enjoy the good weather and take the season as it comes. The uncertainty of it all makes a lot of people irritable this time of year.
My friend Laura and I had no problem identifying irritants; we identified everything and everybody we know, including ourselves and each other. It was hard narrowing it down.
"I think it's the time of year," I told her. "Every year at this time people are cranky."
As I walked past the Keene Valley Neighborhood House I nodded to a gentleman resident who was out for a little stroll.
"Nice day," he observed.
I allowed as how it was.
"Don't get used to it," he advised darkly.
He's right. Still, short-lived as it may be, you would think that the break in the weather would put a stop to the rampant crankiness. The sunshine does cheer us up for the moment, but our crankiness is deep-rooted, and not easily weeded out.
Like bears after a long winter, even a mediocre, unusually mild winter like the one we just had, we find it difficult to come out of hibernation. Our nerves are shot, and we will need some time to recuperate.
A lot of grandstanding and speechifying goes along with seasonal crankiness, as well as with upcoming presidential elections.
Still, crankiness must soon give way to spring fever - if this warm weather keeps up.
Don't you think we're going to have an early spring?
Happy St. Patrick's day, and have a good week.