I’m more than ready for spring! I’m tired of snow and more snow. I’m tired of the north or south wind shaking the house and chilling me to the bone when I go for the mail. I’m tired of winter jackets and boots, long-sleeved turtle necks and heavy slacks.
The list goes on, but I think you get the picture. It’s been a long, long winter, and I have a bad case of cabin fever.
I look forward to a warm sunny day. When it comes, I shall relish being able to go out the door without delay. The only ones happier than I will be those mothers who spent the winter dressing toddlers so they can play outside for a few minutes, undressing them for the inevitable pit-stop, and once again dressing them in their outdoor gear.
I am reminded of Dad’s cows in springtime. All winter they were cooped up in the stable, only going outside to the barnyard for a drink of water. At last, the day would come when the pastures were green enough so Dad would let the herd out to enjoy fresh grass. Armed with pitchforks, we girls would run to the old place, take down the bars, and wait for the cows to arrive. The cows took off and ran all the way to the Old Place the moment Dad let them out of the barnyard. They remembered the way and didn’t waste any time. Most of them were middle-aged matrons, with pendulous bags that swayed from side to side. As they pelted along, kicking up their heels, they forgot their usual dignity. I know just how they felt.
After Dick and I married, I enjoyed watching Ben Berwick’s cows on similar occasions. Ben had a larger herd, he had two boys and two girls. Usually, he drove his young cattle up the hill by our place. They, too, were thrilled to be out in the spring air. I knew the drill. I took a broom and stood in the driveway to discourage any bovine that wandered off the road. (Farming in those days provided a lot of excitement.)
Another day I watched as Ben’s milking cows ran down the main road toward the East Peacham schoolhouse. We have a grand view of that road from our dining room windows. It was like watching a chorus line made up of overweight, no longer young women kicking up their heels.
The coming of spring was a real treat when we wore long-legged underwear all winter. At the earliest signs, Deedee and I started our campaign. We asked, begged or whined until Maw finally gave in and said she guessed it would be all right for us to shed our unwanted garments. Shed was the right word. Off went the long black stockings with the knees knobby with darns. Off went the woolen one-piece garments with the trap door in the back, by now a little small because we’d grown during the winter. How good it felt to be free once more!
It usually turned colder the day after we’d got rid of them, the same as the north room did the night I first left the window open. Spring meant “spring cleaning” with all the scrubbing, dusting, sweeping down cobwebs, and washing windows until they sparkled. “Surely,” I’d think, “I can leave the windows up. I’ll be warm enough.” I wasn’t. In the middle of the night, I had to get up, close the windows, and go shivering back to bed.
Remember the song “April Showers?” “Though April showers may come your way, they bring the flowers that bloom in May.” It doesn’t say anything about April snow. The snow that fell last night may bring flowers eventually, but right now all it does is slow down the melt. I long to put away my parka. I’m afraid I’ll still be wearing it on Memorial Day!
Today at the mall parking lot, two women parked beside us. Neither wore a jacket. Their light tops had long sleeves, but one had cut-outs on the shoulders. They wore high heels. Their obviously dyed hair blew in the wind. Brr! When you’re ninety, you wear whatever the weather requires. The calendar says it’s spring. The temperature says it’s not. So on goes the parka, up goes the hood, and on go the boots. I hope I won’t need them while I’m picking “the flowers that bloom in May!”
Lorna Field Quimby, a native Vermonter, was town clerk and treasurer of Peacham and president of the Peacham Historical Association. Her articles about Peacham history have appeared in Vermont History, published by the Vermont Historical Society. She has been a contributor to the North Star Monthly since 1995.