I\’ve had enough of this sad, brown, gray, muddy winter. This is not what I came to Vermont for. I came to Vermont for bright snow and bracing cold, and for contrast–between white and green, cold and warmth, winter and spring.
People around here look at each other and say \”We sure got a break this year!\” and \”We\’re being spoiled!\” In the woods all around, maple trees are being tapped, and steam is rising from the sugaring sheds behind farmhouses. A dull yellow haze is already visible at the tips of willow branches. Gardeners are actually out weeding their flower beds. In the middle of February, we\’re experiencing early April.
And it feels wrong, wrong, wrong. My lavender and rose bushes are sweating under the heavy hay mulch I tucked around them in October. The balls I throw for the dogs, instead of bouncing smartly off the frozen ground, roll dispiritedly on the mud. And my zonal geraniums, which, stimulated by the sun\’s reflection on snow, used to bloom profusely by my kitchen windows, are boringly green instead of full of red blooms. In the woods, I am sure, the ticks are stirring, ready to pounce.
Right this minute, it is snowing. It brings tears to my eyes, how theatrical the woods behind the house look. The ground is momentarily pure white, and every single tree branch is outlined as if by a calligraphy pen. The snow pours down like lace. How I have missed this!
But I must not attach. According to the weather gurus, this is no storm, but just a snow shower. We\’re going up to the high 30s tomorrow, and all the glory will be gone by mid-morning. Yesterday, I saw an unmistakable yellow stripe on the back of a male goldfinch at the feeder. The fields are covered in deer droppings–our herd of five has not felt the need to hibernate deep in the secret \”deer beds\” as in other years. They come placidly out of the woods in the late afternoon, like cows, and graze.
I don\’t want the gardening season to start any earlier. I want to hibernate. I want to wake up to see signs on the snow of the goings on of the preceding night, to see who-all–deer, fox, rabbit, porcupine, domestic shorthair–wandered into our front yard. I want empty winter time during which to gather my inner resources, gird my loins for the season of growth.
Please, mall-bound drivers of larger-than-needed vehicles, heat- and air-conditioning abusers, and you who leave the lights blazing in the room you have just exited, don\’t take away our winter!
* This is the refrain of Ballade des dames du temps jadis (Ballad of the Ladies of Yesteryear), by Francois Villon, a 15th century French poet.