This gem was uttered by a friend in disgust after the 27th day of subzero temperatures caused by the pernicious Polar Vortex. Ours was a Jack London winter, visually stunning and physically painful, something we’d rather read about than live. But New Englanders proved their mettle once again, the nasty temps and strong winds of the deep freeze pooh-pooh’d by skiers, ice fishermen, snow sculptors, and the various groups of demented nutters that dunk themselves in Lake Champlain, this year amidst large chunks of ice. Others enjoyed their ice indoors, watching Olympic skating men of many nations on TV tossing bespangled partners sky high and—mercifully—catching them, in their giant meat paws.
Today’s post falls on the first day of spring. Which every year is either joyful or a cruel joke, dependent upon the weather. March came in like a lion this year and will leave, with any luck, like a mewling little kitten. With modern global weirding we just don’t know. Really, we never did and, besides, April is not supposed to be a balmy month in northern New England; if it is we are probably saying Welcome! to invasive species like maple-killing insects and Hey there to greenhouse gases. But every gardener is chomping at the bit and who can blame them? As one cabin fever casualty put it a month ago, “The walls seem a little…closer…this year.”
While the beauty was remarkable—frozen solid rivers, sparkling snow, monster icicles—northerners were cracking up and southerners suffered as well. Which you might think would please us northies but didn’t, if only because of the promise of heightened orange juice prices and fossil fumage. Once again we were jealous of—get this—New Jersey, which got way more snow early on than we did. Here, we had unimpressive snowfall until the recent blast, but what snow landed remained with endless subzero temps and endlesser talking about subzero temps.
Now the birds are chattering. They know this godforsaken winter will soon end, and by more than a calendar designation. We have plenty of snow, with ideal temps for outdoorsiness. April has never been more anticipated. She may, of course, present fresh snow storms and protracted sugaring, an anathema to certain wives whose menfolk in their sugar shacks try to match sap boiling with beer consumption at a gallon-per-gallon pace deep into spring. Regardless, we all hope for a superb sugar season and await April’s many treasures, including National Walk to Work Day when hundreds in the Upper Valley are seen marching 30 to 40 miles on I-89 or -91. Lucky for the Upper Valley it is not called Walk To and From Work Day.
A host of April holidays follows, with Palm Sunday, Passover, Tax Day, Good Friday, Easter, Patriot’s Day, Earth Day, Secretaries’ Day (if you are from another era, which I am), Take Your Daughter To Work Day (O, treasured episode of The Office), and finally Arbor Day, to prepare us for the greatest of all the spring holidays, Green Up Vermont Day, a.k.a. Rubber Glovin’ It Day if you pick up the HazMatty biohazards I always manage to harvest on this special day in my randomly assigned location. Try it, you’ll like it! Sign up, clean up, and green up. Great good fun.
Wow, thinking of greenery just rockets our brains into thoughts of (dare I say it?) summer. Among the collateral damage of a winter like this one: tubeside vegetation. Being held prisoner by the climate meant far more sitting around inside doing Vermonty crafts, reading and, yes, watching TV. It has taken me over a decade in the Green
Mountain State to learn that there is a heck of a lot of nudity going on here. The state is like one big nudist’s colony. People swimming, making bird houses, lounging about, doing the dishes, gardening…naked. All over the place. Where am I going with this? Right here: tubeside vegetation is very, very, very bad for nudity. We are going to have to work extra hard this year to shed those unaesthetic pounds if we want to be polite nudists, people. Tough it out.
Is today’s vernal equinox truly what determines the first day of spring? Let’s ask modern-day oracle, Google, shall we? Hmm, s/he delivers us to the Farmers’ Almanac where we can read their take—and the fighty, oddly spelled comments below it—online. Read up and take a stance. And take heart! Spring’s a comin’. Good arguing, good nuding prep, and good (snowy) spring day.