A flock of singing red-winged blackbirds kept me company yesterday on my short walk from the village along the frozen lake. Summers, sprawling houses fill with people from other places, more urban areas, but in this nether zone of late winter/early spring — the mud realm — it’s just me and the rain and the birds.
Of all the seasons in Vermont, this odd one seems the most miraculous to me. Out of dull brown, last year’s frost-killed season, tiny nubs of green appear. So much promise. Every year, this surprises me.
Mud season is fierce this year. The school busses cease running on some roads. Families share photos of kids waist deep in mud ruts. Time, more than all the gravel in the state, is more likely to true up the roads than anything else.
Mud season is the odd shoulder season in Vermont. The skiing winds down. There’s no good biking. The tourists are all in sunnier southern locations, and Vermonters muddle along.
All day long, the prettiest and lightest snow falls — nothing serious, nothing much at all — just a scattering of the purest white and enough of a chill that the wood stove is welcoming when I come in with cold cheeks and armfuls of wood. I put a quiche in the oven and head out for a walk. The snow has (mostly) melted here now, and so my paths through the fields and woods have opened up again. Behind the elementary school, the turkey vultures circle over my head. They’ve just returned from their winter sojourn, to their long-time nest in a stand of white pines. I know what they want; there’s no secret here.
I hurry down the hill and along Main Street. A woman stands outside the laundromat, hands in overall pockets, staring up at the drifting snow. She raises one hand to me. I do the same, round the corner, and head home.