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DON’T DROP YOUR GUARD
It’s been a long time coming, but we touched seventy today. Not in the shade of the pines, where there is still snow, but out in the sun. It seemed like heaven.
It wasn’t just my goats laying about, though they were a bit absurd in the way they relished the warmth. As the snow first retreated they capered like kids, kicking their heels and full of energy, but today all that energy seemed gone, and they just lay in the sun. Some retained dignity, and merely chewed their cuds, but others, (perhaps because they are itchy due to shedding their winter fur,) stretched and rolled onto their backs and wiggled in a manner that was absurdly voluptuous.
The children at my Childcare also lay about, which is downright amazing. They are usually bursting with energy and itching for conflict, but a lovely languor seemed to overcome them. I took them up to the sand-pile-from-an-incomplete-project, to get them away from the mud of lower spots, and they quietly played there, or just sat and conversed, all the world like old men and women.
Of course, water is irresistible in the springtime. Perhaps it is simply because it has been so many months since one could dabble, but I can remember how attractive the rivulets made by melting snow were, a half century ago, and how I rechanneled them by digging with my heel. I would always begin determined to stay clean, and always wind up in trouble for getting my school clothes muddy.
Modern children are no different. While I was attending to the youngest children two of the older kids crept down from the sandpile to a little spring just down the hill from the sand pile, and brought small plastic pails of water back, to moisten the dry sand and make it easier to form castles with.
I had only dropped my guard a moment, and spotted them sneaking back, but decided to let them think they had gotten away with it, because they wore gum boots and both remained clean. However they couldn’t stay away, and what is more, having gotten away with it the first time, they pressed their luck the second time, lingering at the spring longer and taking greater liberties. I could see they would wind up muddy, just as I wound up muddy fifty years ago, so I ordered them back.
One six-year-old girl pressed her luck further. She heard my order, and even nodded, but lingered. She had driven a large toy Tonka Truck to the spring, and was pouring dipperful after dipperful of water onto the sand in the back of the truck. The sand was past being moist, and I could see she knew it, for she even lifted the dumping lever to spill some of the water out of the back of the truck. However something about pouring water into the back of the truck was addictive, and she couldn’t stop, even when I gave my third and final warning. However she had one eye out for me, for when I took a couple of wrathful steps in her direction, she quickly drove the truck back to the sand pile.
And that was as close as we came to a conflict the entire afternoon. There were a couple of near-altercations, involving the borders between castles on the sand pile, however considering such border conflicts usually escalate to explosive wars before I can even reach the scene, it was uncanny how a long-distance word of advice brought peace, today.
(Usually the only way I can bring about peace is to forbid the combatants from playing together; then they both scowl at me, and find some sneaky way to get back together and be fast friends.)
All was well with the world, and I couldn’t help but smile and shake my head over how sunshine and mild temperatures can do what I, and even genius psychiatrists, cannot do.
I thanked the west wind. After what amounted to a solid month where winds were mostly north, and only occasionally strayed to the east, I was starting to wonder if west or south winds were a figment of my imagination, perhaps a memory tinted by the rose-colored glasses of hindsight.
Now I was seeing a west wind isn’t just a dream. Kind breezes actually do happen.
Nor is spring a dream. It does come, eventually.
It is very hard, when intoxicated by the sweetness of seeing life isn’t only hardship, to be a responsible adult. One wants to celebrate, but one must be careful, or they will wind up with their school clothes covered with mud. This is something I learned fifty years ago, which still applies.
In the current situation I am striving to remind myself the snow has only retreated to the shade of the pines. In fact, up in Canada, the snow cover is still growing deeper.
As long as that snow covers the landscape up there, the north wind can still be bitter. We are not safe, here in New Hampshire, until Canada is snow free and Hudson Bay is largely ice-free. We are not there yet. To be honest, the idea Toronto is under a winter storm watch, and snow depths are still increasing up there, is a little bit disconcerting.
While I never have seen a summer like 1815, which had snow in every month and is remembered in Yankee lore as, “Eighteen hundred and froze to death,” I have seen a fishing derby in this town on May 17 spoiled by steady snow, and recall a May snow down in Massachusetts, (1977?) which fell so heavily, after all the leaves were fully opened on the trees, that it did terrible tree damage, so that when I revisited my boyhood neighborhood all my favorite trees had favorite limbs broken off, when they weren’t snapped off completely.
This far north you are unwise to ever completely lower your guard.
However that only makes a day as kindly as today all the more intoxicating, and makes the gratitude springing from the breasts of souls six to sixty all the more genuine.