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Jessie Raymond: Warm spell melts winter memories

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Posted on June 18, 2014 |
By Jessie Raymond



Jessie's column.jpg
THIS APRIL PHOTO of Jessie Raymond’s driveway indicates that, though it may seem like a distant memory, winter hasn’t been gone that long.

Sitting on the back porch with a friend the other day, I mentioned how much I loved Vermont.

“It’s just so beautiful,” I said. “The flowers, the birds, the views. I feel so lucky to live here.”

She snorted and said, “That’s funny, because three months ago you were binge-watching ‘House Hunters International’ and telling me you were seriously considering moving to Costa Rica.”

Um, I don’t think so.

Sure, I vaguely recall complaining about the weather a while back, but I can’t remember what I was so cranky about. Was this past winter really that bad? I know it got a bit cold and snowy, but it sounds cozy. Drinking hot tea. Knitting by the fire. Snuggling under a blanket. Watching the snow fall silently on the fields.

I don’t see how I could have hated winter.

When I asked my husband, he, too, snorted. (Everyone is so rude.)

According to him, it was extremely cold for a very long time and I didn’t like it. Every time I was forced to leave the house, he said, I screamed an epithet and shook my fist at the sky.

That doesn’t sound like me. Lately I’ve been greeting every morning by running out into the back field, bursting into song and doing a Julie Andrews spin with my arms held out wide.

I do see signs, however, that maybe I wasn’t always so joyful.

My closet, for instance, is bursting with piles of heavy wool sweaters, long underwear, scarves and turtlenecks. Though I can’t imagine I was ever cold enough to wear any of it, let alone multiple layers all at one time, my nickname this winter — “Michelin Man” — indicates I probably did. 

And looking through my files I see that I visited the doctor for midwinter malaise, which she diagnosed as a non-urgent condition known as “couch-lock.” Funny, given that I haven’t lazed around the house in ages. It sounds so boring.

Recently my days have been filled with outdoor activities. I’m either working in the vegetable garden or taking daily walks with the dog. The last thing I want to do is sit in the house and watch TV; there are seeds to be planted, trails to be hiked and fields to be musical in.

I love it all. No matter what I’m doing outside, I feel simultaneously peaceful and invigorated — even more so when I remember to wear bug spray. It’s hard for me to believe I avoided going outdoors, except under duress, from November through April.

When I said as much to my teenager, she said, “Ugh,” and rolled her eyes (her current preferred mode of communication with me). She reminded me that I am obsessed with my poor circulation and that this winter, every time I’d come inside after spending more than 10 minutes in the cold, I’d take off my mittens and socks and make her look at my cadaver-like fingers and toes.

My husband added that it was dark a lot of the time, and that going out to do chores involved an arduous process of dressing like a Carhartt model and shoveling and slogging through ice and snow — not just slipping into rubber clogs and skipping down to the barn the way I do now.

If what they’re telling me is true, winter sounds just awful.

But now, when I’m sitting on the porch, inhaling the fragrances of the wild honeysuckle and the black locust blossoms, and watching a hummingbird hovering at the feeder, I just can’t believe it. The sunshine, the grass, the blue skies, the soft breezes — is it really temporary? It’s so delightful I can’t remember a time when things were any different.

Then I found a piece of hard evidence to suggest that they were. I was scrolling through old pictures on my phone and found a snowy shot taken from our front porch. Though it looks like a black-and-white photo, it’s actually in full color; there just isn’t any. Snow blankets the driveway, leafless trees and barn roof, all under a leaden sky.

It’s dated April 16.

That’s just over eight weeks ago. That means in only two months, we’ve gone from full-on winter to glorious summer.

My pinafore apron is in the wash right now, but as soon as it’s clean, I’m heading out into the back field to do my Julie Andrews thing.

I’ve got to make the most of the summer. Apparently, it’s not going to last forever.

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