By G. E. Shuman
I enjoy all of the seasons here in the North, with the exception of the six month long one which begins with the letter ‘w’ and ends, way too late. Don’t get me going on that one. Of the others, fall might be my favorite, although I just re-read this column, and now I am not sure. I do love the vibrant colors, the crunchy leaves, the cool, crisp apples and breezes, and the golden sunsets of fall. Summer is, obviously, fun too. We actually get to run air conditioners here then. It is also the one season of the year when even ‘northerners’ can dip their toes in the ocean without freezing them off. Of course, an ocean is pretty scarce here in Vermont. We have to go over to Maine or down to New Hampshire to find one of those. Yes, summer is super and fall is fine up here in maple sugar country. Believe it or not, some people even like the ‘w’ word season, but, since I am not one of them, that strange fact is not my fault.
Hum…There seems to be one season left. Oh yes, the one we are in right now. It is spring, and spring has, indeed, sprung upon us. If you happen to be reading this column someplace besides the recently thawed tundra of the north, say, if you are in Florida, for instance, (Yes, I have a few readers down there. One of them is my mother. Hi, Mom!) you might not understand or remember the way in which spring does spring out at us. The season, up here, literally jumps out, like someone hiding behind a door might, just to scare the ‘s’ word out of you. (I guess we’re going to be using letters instead of words today, from how this is going. I never know what my computer is going to say when I hit the keys.)
Anyway, in case you weren’t here for it, or just, somehow, missed it, let me explain how spring happened this year, up here. It all started about a month or six weeks ago, after the final gasp of a grizzly winter gave up the ghost and left us. The four-foot tall snow banks, almost overnight, sneaked back to wherever they come from every year, and the brown grass of last summer and brown mud of another mud season appeared. Truthfully, if you missed mud season this year, there is a reason. That wonderful phenomenon left us as quickly as it came this time, and few people were upset by that. (The only folks who really like mud season own towing companies and car washes.)
Then, and, although this occurrence happens each year in a land where spring must hurry and take place so that there are at least a few weeks saved for summer, before heating season starts again, spring simply EXPLODED upon us this time. I know I am older, and older people sometimes exaggerate one way or the other about the passage of time, but, the grass, this spring, simply sprung up and turned the landscape green, nearly overnight. Also, on our own lawn, the two maple trees, which, all winter, were as naked and gray as a newborn elephant, (Okay, that was just weird.) have suddenly not only budded, but, in just the past few days, have produced full sized, very green leaves. And, this ‘and’ is one that always amazes me, there are our lilac bushes. Let me tell you about those, because those things are simply amazing. Three weeks ago they were just scraggly, old, sickly looking stick-like things that made you think last season was probably their last ever season. Two weeks ago they showed some signs of life, with little green buds popping out. Literally four days ago, and I know it was only four days ago, because I know it was Monday, and I’m writing this on Thursday, and I can count to four, I told my wife that very small, green lilac blossoms had come out on them. Today, the lilacs are in full, bright purple bloom. Now, I know I am no botanist, and have trouble growing a potted tomato plant, but I just don’t understand how that is possible. Each year I wonder how the material that lilacs and leaves are made of can even take the form of those things in so very few days. This year, it almost seems that I could have stood there and watched it all happen.
Life is really something. In fact, it is more than something. It is everything, and our world is abundantly blessed with it, everywhere, in nearly countless forms. Here in Vermont, more than anywhere else I have seen, most of that life hides, waiting for the thermometer to rise, just enough, this time of the year. When that happens, something, like the baton of the conductor of some vast natural symphony, seems to signal it all. Great melodies of life, then, simply explode upon the land. How strange, and how wonderful that is. Step outside, and enjoy the music!