Sunday, March 29, 2009

the fifth season

Spring teases at the trees and the melting snow. Our mountain road is rutted and inconsistent. Mist rises from the snow as the air is warmer than the ground wrapping the house in a blanket of fog. Caleb points out the window. A fat-breasted robin sits beneath an apple tree in the orchard making a feast of wintered fruit. Despite the gray weather, we are buoyed by this harbinger of a new season.

At the restaurant, I seat a couple and we talk of today’s fairer weather: the warm sun, the heat in our green house, the song of the chickadee. I mentioned our robin in the apple tree, and my guest suggests that this is a Canadian robin with his broad orange chest. Canadian robins are with us always, he says. They fool us, he says. He is an ornithologist and I realize, with a sinking feeling, he must know. Our fifth season, this mud season, tricks the eye and skin making us believe that winter is almost over, that the long thaw has begun and the sap runs in the maple trees. The truth is that we must weather another six weeks before we can say spring has arrived. Rain will come; snow will come. The old wives’ tales tell us that the torch cannot be passed from this world of mud and mist to one of flowering fruit trees and early green until four snows in April—the lasting joke of the fool’s month for us willingly fooled northerners.


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