Montpelier, seasons

Monday was the first day in which it finally felt like winter was done.

Monday we beat it – warm temperatures and thunderstorms vanquishing all but the most persistent snow. The dramatic flair of the thunderstorms added to my wonderful feeling of victory and accomplishment. I felt as if we should all be commended for a winter well-spent and soundly overcome. It has been a long winter. Sure, we had a couple of warm days prior to this week but we were still below freezing at night (and some days, too) and we were still having flurries. On top of that, the snow in the yard was at least knee-deep with no bare spots to speak of. In other words, the spring warm-up felt weak and tentative, as if winter might come roaring back in at any moment.

The hearty folks of Montpelier do not let a little thing like snow and blustery 20-degree days keep them from embracing the changing seasons. Until this week the only real difference in the weather was the sunlight. The sun is higher in the sky and the light is noticeably more intense. Also, whereas the sun would be falling behind the mountains by 3 or 4 in the winter, we already have light until well after 7 pm and it is up well before we are crawling out of bed around 7. Taking the sun as the sign of change, a few weeks ago folks began to put away their winter coats and boots (we’ve been in them since November, after all). We’re sick of the sweaters, vests and wool socks. We’ve rediscovered footwear that is not waterproof and temperature-rated. We’ve pulled out the short-sleeves and put away the hats and mittens. We’ve been marching around town under-dressed in the local equivalent of a rain-dance. Dressing for the way we want it to be.

While Montpelierites have been dressing for a spring for a few weeks now, with this week’s weather it feels as if the climate is really on our side. Neighbors, who have had little contact for a few months as we tended to hide-out inside from the dark and cold unless we were out in it on skis, sleds or snowshoes, have come out to fraternize – extending dinner invitations, planning summer parties, chatting about camping trips and gardening plans as the children splash in the puddles and rivulets of melting snow. I have been here long enough to know that the low buzzing of sociability will crescendo through chatter to roaring litany of impromptu visits and conversations, community events, spontaneous and planned lawn parties, hikes, swims, paddles and rambles in the pasture. The days will be 16-hours-and-a-gorgeous-sunset long and there still will not be enough time for all that is wonderful about Summer in Vermont.

By August we will all be a bit a tired and notice the intermittent surfacing of grumpiness on the streets of downtown. The days will be getting shorter, the nights cooler and we will quietly anticipate the calm and quiet solitude of the winter while we explicitly anticipate the fall foliage and the harvest. The frenetic pace will not subside as scheduled talks, community organizing and school activities displace trips to the reservoir. It will not be over until Halloween (or maybe Thanksgiving). The first frost will be long past, the foliage lying on the ground under the first light snows – not quite enough for sledding but the kids will give it a try all the same. We will embrace the prospect of a long-night’s sleep and the way the world gets so quiet during heavy snows. We will prepare the winter gear. We will dig around in the closet for our flannels and fleeces, our wool socks and synthetic base-layers, greeting them like old friends as we stow away the light-weight shoes and clothes we will have no use for until this time next year.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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