There’s nothing quite like all this warm sunshine, and the millions of little green things poking up to give you a feeling of joy. You made it through. I look at our meadow where the birds are rustling around building nests, and up the hill where the crocuses are vibrant purple exclamation points, and I feel a benevolence toward the whole of the rest of the world. We all got through that dreary gray extended winter together and here we are, cleaning up, stacking the rest of the wood back in the basement, repairing the cracked glass panes that the ice left behind, sweeping the winter leavings away together. Everybody’s friendly again down at the general store. People say good morning now, and there is a spring in it unlike the crabby complaints about the papers that were ubiquitous this winter. “…The papers here yet…?”, they would growl. Forget hello, nevermind that the NYT doesn’t get to Vermont until about 4:30 AM, and unless you happen to live next to the shipping station which is an hour away from here, it won’t get to your corner until 8 or even 9. There are just a few drivers and they each have a hundred stops or more. When we owned the store we hung a flag up for a while so people would know when the papers were in. But that only worked once somebody had already driven or walked up. They still came in and said…”No papers…?” never quite trusting the stupid colorful flag with its bright tail that was supposed to give them a happy feeling of village life while we all waited… together. It never worked for us, and the new owners had the same crabby folks there every morning all winter. It took spring to make them forget about how late the silly papers were or at any rate to stop caring.
Two weeks ago a tired and troubled restaurant owner hung himself in town. Since i am home for a change in the middle of the week, and have been cleaning up winter, I have also had several occasions to run over to the store to get a clamp for gluing a window, or some mud for filling a crack, and have heard all of the sad conversation about this man. It seems the restaurant had been struggling. Well, businesses do that a lot up here. We bring in our city skills and they just do not translate. And worse there are hardly any people so you have to please the ones there are…over and over. And in mud season there are even fewer since so many of us take a nice little spring break somewhere, and no tourist in his right mind comes here at the end of March or beginning of April. It is very hard on the local economy. But of course, the vendors still have to be paid. It can get really get you down. And the electric company, kindly when it is minus 10 outside, makes up for it in April by turning everybody off at once. This fellow was found hanging in his kitchen where the power had been turned off.
He was also known to drink and brood. So it likely wasn’t just any one thing. But yesterday I heard a carpenter named Dean talking about his friend. It had been very upsetting for him. They had shared a beer and some dinner late last winter. He knew his friend was battling his demons and the gray landscape wasn’t helping any. We walked out of the general store together into the bright sunshine. There was birdsong on the breeze and the air smelled loamy and warm. The sun was glinting off the leftover snow up on the mountains, and we were struck by the feeling of warmth on our faces when we looked up at them. Quietly he said “Just look at this. He should have waited. It was only a couple of weeks away…”
It’s true. We all need to remember occasionally just to wait….