by Joe Shea
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief
April 10, 2010
15 YEARS IN 15 MINUTES
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- I've been known to wax poetic about spring.
I've thrilled to the songs of mating birds and rejoiced at the sight of purple crocuses.
Over the years I've written columns called "Daffodil Slut" and "The Unbearable Lightness of Daffodils." Maybe I've quoted William Wordsworth once too often: "I Wander'd lonely as a cloud/That floats on high o'er vales and hills/When all at once I saw a crowd/A host, of golden daffodils;/Beside the lake, beneath the trees/Fluttering and dancing in the breeze."
But you have to give the lighthearted Wordsworth some credit. Robert Herrick (1591-1674) saw daffodils darkly, as a harbinger of death: "Fair Daffodils, we weep to see/You haste away so soon.../We have short time to stay, as you/We have as short a spring/As quick a growth to meet decay/As you, or anything/We die.../Ne'er to be found again."
We who live in southern Vermont have had a relatively easy winter, a benign mud season and an early spring. Who could ask for anything more? I should be Wordsworth-happy instead of Herrick-depressed, right? I should once again be dancing on the tip of ecstasy.
But I seem to be more grumpy than enchanted. As the light grows brighter, it just makes it easier to see what the spiders have been doing all winter. The thought of "Ah! Spring!" has led me inexorably to the thought of "Awww! Spring cleaning," which is not the same thing at all. And which is what I did last weekend instead of walking, frolicking, bicycling or birding.
When the snow and ice finally melted, it didn't mean crocuses so much as yard work. Where did all those leaves come from? And that broken glass and pottery? Those plastic bags? That old Primestar satellite dish I was going to turn into a birdbath how many years ago after Primestar went bankrupt?
And we had to replace the composter this year - the bears and raccoons have certainly had their way with the old one.
Yes, the rain smells heavenly on the freshly exposed earth. Rain? Warm weather? Flowers? Nope, big black sugar ants. They come from nowhere to relentlessly march in ingle file across my wall, crawl up my leg when I'm watching television, and, inevitably, start to make love to the honey jar. I put out sweetened borax yesterday and they gathered like Delta planes around the hub in Atlanta.
Speaking of transportation, by the way, how did my car get so dirty? Not the outside, mind you. I live two miles down a dirt road; I know why the outside gets dirty. But the inside? Yesterday I lugged a bucket, some Simple Green, Windex, a sponge and a vacuum cleaner outside and tried to bring order out of the chaos of crumpled tissues, out-of-jacket CDs, dust, maps and bread crumbs.
These days, my flannel sheets tumble with cotton ones in the dryer. I'm washing and folding thermal shirts in the same load as short-sleeved blouses.
Speaking of clothing, I was in Rutland last week and everyone was walking around in flip-flops and tank tops. It will take several trips to my attic to find some summery things. How come the people of Rutland were ready?
The good news is that the chimney has been cleaned, we still have about a cord of wood to start us off next fall, and we've emptied the ash pan around the lilac bush to help with next year's blossoms. Maybe next week I'll take the snow tires off the car.
And it's nice that we can finally open the windows. We now have air in the house that hasn't been endlessly recycled through two pairs of adult human lungs and one pair of adult cat lungs.
And speaking of Agatha Kitty, she spent the winter melted into the hearth under the wood stove. As far as I know, she only killed two mice in the house all winter, while the many other mice - and their families - were dancing around her sleeping head. Now she's up and prowling outside as if last summer had never ended.
The peepers are here! Nothing can make me grumpy about peepers, that's for sure.
Well, the house now sparkles and spring has sprung - even if I'm so grumpy that all it means to me is a six-month reprieve before it snows again.
Still, I'm looking at the daffodils I have on my desk, their mouths so wide open to the sun that they capture it and reflect it all at the same time.
Maybe I'll make a return trip to Wordsworth after all: "And then my heart with pleasure fills/And dances with the daffodils."