And Around and Around We Go

February 16, 2011 by Ellen Stimson in Springtime

It’s not spring. Not even close. Just a couple of days ago I was feeling pretty smug and proud of the way I have weathered this winter. We have had three blizzards and temperatures of minus twenty-six. This has been the most wintry winter I have ever known. But we have gotten several feet of snow, which brightens the landscape in a really beautiful way, and so there have been the twin gifts of light and sparkles and I have somehow managed not to mind the rest of it very much.

Until the day before yesterday. Something happened and now I am done with winter. I want the snow to melt. I am sick of the seven foot plowed snowdrifts that we have to inch our cars beside to see around. I am tired of the silence which deep in December felt snug and now feels oppressive. I want the birds to come back. I am sick to death of salt in the floorboards and dry skin and I am dreading the floods that will surely come when all this snow finally melts. This mud season is shaping up to be a doozy.

You see on the day before yesterday the sun came to Vermont and the temperature was fifty degrees. The ice started sliding off the roof. That was a story in and of itself. We had a giant slab fall and decimate our balcony. It looks like Beirut out there right now with broken railings hanging precariously from the house and slate tiles scattered all over the snow. That is going to be a helluva job this spring and I am not looking forward to the hammering or the bill.
But oh the glorious feeling of that golden light on our faces. We were warm—-outside. What happened was we remembered about spring and summer, light and warmth.

It didn’t last of course. It was all a big tease. The temperature was back down to nine yesterday morning and I thought of having a good cry. I didn’t though. What’s the point? I mean look the good news is that spring is coming. It is inevitable now. Yes I know it will be six weeks or so before it really gets going, but the point is something is happening underneath our feet. Ice is beginning to give way down there and pretty soon we will have that loamy smell of dirt and heat crackling on our faces. So instead of crying I packed up the sweater hearts hanging from the mantle for Valentine’s Day. I pulled up the red tablecloths and switched out the candles from red to a quiet dusty purple. Today I think I’ll go to the nursery and get some flowers. Maybe a giant vase of pussy willows for the hall table.

Tomorrow I am going to the city. It is supposed to be in the fifties down there by Friday. So maybe I will wear these new red patent pumps instead of boots. I think I will buy a new bird feeder for the first hardy souls that sneak back out too. Because they know–and I have remembered. Everything sleeps. We slow up and hunker down. We regroup. And then slowly inexorably we come back shiny, full of color and glee at having made it though the dark night.

I came up here to the mountains for lessons I thought only the natural world could teach me. I had gotten what I could from city communities and offices. I wanted to make up my own job and manage my own life. I was weary of corporate problems even when the corporations were mine. I have always relished solving puzzles. I wanted the puzzles to be about living well in an organic and natural way. I was a city girl who wanted to learn from the country. So what I did I learn this winter? I learned that you can have terrible problems one spring and sweet resolution by the very next winter. The seasons mimic the ever changing kalidescopes of our own lives. They always repeat the patterns. Create good ones because you get to return to them again and again. We wrapped our arms around each other in this family and felt grateful this winter just like we had lots of winters before. I remembered about hanging on because everything changes and that includes the bad stuff. You usually get back to your set point. If that set point is happy you can usually count on being happy again pretty soon. We will come out of this winter deeply connected to our new Violet and sweet Oscar. We will have a grown-up son who ended a relationship that didn’t make him happy and a seven sister’s graduate. We have one making movies and another one thinking about immigration policy. And we have a teenager who skateboarded through the house all winter long chipping paint everywhere he went but whose worst crime all winter was throwing snowballs at cars on Friday nights. Not bad. One of us is making kids feel seen and heard in a kindly and loving classroom and the other has plenty of good clients and a new pair of shiny red shoes. The married ones held hands most nights all winter long. That is always the lesson I guess. Holding on….Lucky is what we are up here. Doubly so because spring is coming.
It is coming!


  • Library Lady

    Everyone here is clebrating the warmer temps and the melting snow and I feel like a terrible Cassandra, but guys, it's FEBRUARY. We've had snow and ice in March many times, and even April. I don't care what a ground hog had to say on the second–it's still winter! (Besides, I have at least four new sweaters I want to wear!)

  • starrlife

    Well, I'll spare you my “when I was little the snowbanks came up to the roof” speech 🙂 For me this winter is a good, old fashioned winter and I'm loving it. We're having a bit of a delay in our Jan thaw but then again the snow was a bit delayed too. The ice dams are terrible this year!!
    Hot chocolate helps, Hershey's Kisses and baking a lot is good too! In March the days get longer and that is what I really miss about winter.
    We have birds- where are yours? We have been having a flock of Cedar WaxWings eating apples, lots of Juncos, Cardinals and Goldfinches. Today I saw a Flicker on a tree. Ooohhh…. don't get me wrong- I am looking forward to Spring and there are things about Winter I hate (dirty snow, salt and dry skin). It's coming, it's coming- I can smell it already.

  • Kate

    This is the first February I have weathered without thinking of stabbing myself in the neck with a fork. I don't know if it's the new job that has kept me occupied, or the 40 below winds that came and went in 2 day stretches instead of weeks at a time. We are slated for a snow storm this week. But I'm strangely ambivalent. Because I know that Spring snow disappears. And underneath it is my garden. My lovely garden. That's what keeps me going.

    Leave a Comment

    Your email is never shared.
    Required fields are marked *