Waiting It Out

March 20, 2008 by Ellen Stimson in Patience, Springtime, Vermont, Wintertime Florida

It is unbearably bleak as winter lingers with scattered snowstorms followed by rain and ice. Mud season can’t really get going because it keeps freezing. The freezing rain, mixed with snow is the worst. It is worse because there is all this wet just waiting to melt and make new deep ruts in the driveway while washing horrible gloppy mountain mud all over the glistening white house freshly painted last fall in a rush of sentiment about how it would all look in the spring. In the autumn light, with orange and red leaves floating around it is easy to get misty about spring and forget the long slog of winter, followed as it always is by the weeks of mud.

People who have lived here all their lives speak in wistful romantic tones usually reserved for the poets about May. In May the leaves are lacy and the mud has been powerwashed away. The sunlight is new, and the greens climb the mountains in waves of color with the fresh new greens at the top settling down to the darker more established ones at the bottom. Green comes in a dazzling array of hues. There are the barely there washes alongside the deep forest green of the tall pines. The depth of green is fully realized in the old green hills of Vermont.

But this week, with the sand from the lane caught in all the floorboards, and the ice on the marble steps treacherously needing salt all day long, amid a meadow littered with broken branches heavy with ice because they were just too old to stand it anymore, May seems more like myth than promise. But it is here in Vermont that I have finally learned patience. I think once you learn it you never forget it. I spent 40 years running around saying patience wasn’t one of my virtues, and thinking that the speed and high velocity
way I lived my life were. Now, here in this high valley, where the paper comes when it comes, and spring makes you wait, where the lilacs don’t really get going until May, and it always snows on Easter, I have learned what is worth waiting for. May smells sweeter because March is so long.

I have gotten on a plane and found work to do in Florida this week where it smells like spring, and the beaches are full of people in their twenties. My kids are a rosy brown, and we have sand in all of our clothes. We are feeding pelicans instead of chickens this week. Because patience is lovely, and May will be beautiful, but I was starting to feel older than I am, and there is nothing like an 80 degree day to make you remember your twenties. Patience is nice, but sometimes you need a little sun while you wait….


  • Bia

    Absolutely true! Patience is easier when you’re in pleasant surroundings. I’m glad you were able to find a little sun.

    While we’ve been having some sunny days, we’ve also been inhaling huge amounts of pine pollen. There is a yellow coating of the stuff everywhere!

    God bless.

  • jamie

    I hope you’re enjoying the sun! We’re kindof on a weather rollercoaster here–just when you walk outside and think it’s “nice” out (anything above 30 degrees) you remember you still have to scrape the windows! Take care, and have a good trip!!

  • Angela

    Oh can I come to Florida too??? That sounds perfectly divine. We are headed to TX next week so I am hoping for good weather… what I wouldn’t give for ocean and pelicans though… hope you’re having a good time.

  • library lady

    I think it’s probably a good thing that you didn’t specify exactly where you are, because I, unmellowed at 60, might go completely insane and try to see the effect that burial in sand up to your eyebrows would have on your newly-earned patience! We have certainly hit a warm spell and I have crocus and snowbells blooming, but my basement has sprung leaks in every corner and I think the mold may kill me!

  • TheCynicalOptimist

    That so called sun gave me 6 more permanent freckles last summer, taking me forever further from that luminous skin of youth. 🙁

    Glad you were able to get away!!!


    Florida, eh…while we are drowning here in STL, MO…I am jealous but happy you all are someplace warm and nice…just heard on the radio they closed 141 at I-55 as water was over the road I guess from River DePeres…nasty business…62 tomorrow with more rain on Saturday… :(( Illinois X

  • Amy

    You are a beautiful writer.

    This is a wonderful reminder of the joy that comes with patience. I grew up in California and now live in the Pacific Northwest. I have come to appreciate 70 degree days more, because I don’t get to experience them as often.

    Enjoy the beach.

  • Motherhood for Dummies

    You are in flordia? Ohhhh…so jealous! Well, please enjoy the warm weather enough for all of us!!!!

  • Jennifer

    There is NOTHING like feeling 80 degrees after you’ve been dealing with freezing rain. Seriously, are there any two words strung together than are more bleak than freezing rain.

    Soak up that sun!

  • katiedid

    You write beautifully you know. This one seems shorter than the NPR bits, but it would work nicely and I’d love to hear you say it…

  • molls

    “patience wasn’t one of my virtues” yeah me either. I always acted like it wasn’t one really anyway too.
    nice piece….

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