Weary Pilgrim – Spring sprung

Photo by Jan Cannon

I swear to you, I wait all year for the first week in May. It’s got that Christmas Eve-not-long-till-you-open-your-presents thing going for it, and if you’ve ever been to Ireland, then and only then do you have something to compare the greenery of a Vermont May to. 

This morning I saw my first cardinal, as well as my first rose-breasted grosbeak. Yesterday I mowed the lawn for the first time (it’s still fun—check with me in mid-July on that one). As soon as the river quiets down I will wade into it and let the fish make a fool out of me once more. I am playing 18 this afternoon. I took the top down on the flivver yesterday. Every morning one of my trees fans out its feathers like a young pheasant strutting his stuff.

The transition from winter to spring reminds me of my brother-in-law: always late, but always welcome. If you remembered to pickle your internal combustion tools correctly, then you can usually start up the mower and weed whacker without a trip to the doctor. I love rummaging around the storage closet for the bin full of summer clothing and then swapping it out with the turtlenecks, ski gear, heavy socks, long underwear and the rest of that survival kit that takes about the same space in my dresser as the shorts and polo shirts.

I’m having a serious debate with myself about when to swap the screen doors with the storm doors. Likewise I’m reluctant to clean out the fireplace, truck the wood back outside and put a fireboard in the hearth—good old fashioned wood fires are a winter pleasure that I don’t want to lose with a turn of the calendar page.

I’ve been so eager for the return of the warm weather that I jump-started the whole season by raking the flower beds about two months before my usual time. There is no doubt that this winter kicked us around in a serious Seasonal Affective Disorder fashion. We all got a dose of the SAD.  No doubt about it—the sun is a welcome antidote to all things depressing, frustrating or political.

Now would be a good time to recall the many polls and opinion research papers that reveal (drum roll, please…) that Vermont is the happiest and healthiest state in the country. The latest Gallup Poll in this regard has us tied with South Dakota for this honor. I’ve been to South Dakota and have no quarrel with that finding. But I would like to point out that I was done with the place after about five days and have never returned. Vermont I can’t stand to leave for more than about five days.

There appears to be no end of people willing to concede us the best place in the universe. Some financial website dude declared Vermont to be the “safest” state. Reader’s Digest says we are the happiest as well. CNBC says we are tied for fewest work hours—I suppose some could read that as indicative of poverty or sloth, but they say it contributes to happiness. The Gallup Poll was pretty exhausting and widely quoted, but reading it didn’t change my appreciation of the state one little bit. It was kind of like seeing a headline that says “Sun Rises in East!”

I don’t know about you, but one of my greatest fears is that I will see the new Time Magazine, and on it the cover declares: “Vermont, the greatest place to move in America!” All I can think is, Oh man, now everybody knows! 

I remember going to Oregon in 1969, and seeing billboards at the border that said, “Welcome to Oregon—please have a wonderful time here….and then please leave. “

I kid you not, that’s what it said. It might not be too soon to order our billboards. After all, it IS spring. My Mom has a sampler on the wall that reads: “Vermont—where the trees are close together, and the people are far apart.” That pretty much says it all.