This interim Maine season, part late winter and part early spring, has a raw beauty. Snow melt saturates the earth, snow lingers in the shade, and dead branches litter the forest floor, but summer’s diversions beckon. The dock needs only one day’s labor (a full day’s labor, true)–and ice out to become the summer living room on the lake. Stacked dock furniture awaits setup, canoes and kayaks need only open water. One of the most fortuitous aspects of my schedule is that the Maine spring comes alive just as the school year winds down. Commencement ceremonies one weekend, dock installation the next. Try to find that in other professions.
There’s a reason the song is called April in Paris. Not April in Maine. I’ve been sitting by crackling fires for hours, burning firewood with abandon because I won’t need to refill it until the fall. I finished reading The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, the best novel I’ve read in ages, so good I skimmed it immediately upon completion. I ate a salad (mixed greens, mandarin orange segments, chopped tomatoes, sliced green olives, feta cheese, blush dressing) by the fire. The dogs were in and out a half-dozen times, mostly-blind Chelsey sniffing the ground and stepping tentatively to reacquaint herself with the terrain. The house is dark save for yellow firelight and white lamplight shining over my left shoulder.
Outside is the long transition from winter to spring. Shaded areas contain abundant snow, snow melt fills the low spots, the lake is covered with treacherous rotten ice. Leaving Boston this afternoon it was spring, arriving here early evening it was–Sprinter? Wing? A hybrid season that deserves its own name.
We’ve had terrible luck with bulbs. Frost, squirrels, neglect, and other natural hazards killed most of our bulbs each year. We gave up trying. A few lonely tulips struggle on. Saturday I saw Cleo sniff and take a preliminary nibble on these petals. I shooed her away and snapped the picture before Cleo could finish it off. Apparently it didn’t meet Cleo’s exceptionally low edibility threshold. The tulip blooms yet.
Last weekend in Maine I saw more Lady’s Slippers than I’ve spotted in prior years. They were at the edge of the woods in the shade, along the path to the dock, behind the shed, in each location a single plant bearing one flower. Maybe it was just the right weekend.
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Our first crocus of 2009.