This past Sunday we went for a walk, the first of the season. There are no sidewalks in our neighborhood, so winter makes it too dangerous to walk on the road, once they have been narrowed by snowbanks. Our road is not straight, it goes up hills and around treacherous blind curves, and down and across fairly narrow bridges. We wait to walk until the snow has receded, and the roadsides are clear of snow, gritty in places with sand from the plow trucks, the shoulders soft mud topped with the same gritty sand. Rivulets of snow melt off higher ground and run down the edge of the road pavement, shimmering slight currents catching the eye.
We keep an ear out for cars, and they often steer clear over into the other lane. Many of the drivers wave, or lift two fingers off the steering wheel in greeting. Further down at the end of the road, you can hear the river, the current strong and water high, chattering over rocks and against icy banks. The air is cold; it’s good to feel the sun, to walk on the road after a winter inside…
We take part of our walk through a cemetery, which is never plowed during the winter, and the snow is still six inches deep on the road through the gravestones. Thinner than the accumulated snowfall this entire season, frozen and thawed, packed down ice crystals, dried brown hydrangea blooms caught in ruts (the hydrangeas here planted a century ago, their trunks almost a foot in diameter). Overhead, the maple, oak and ash trees are old and you make note of the snow and ice broken tree limbs, caught in the remaining limbs, but headed downwards; hanging perils. Footprints veer off the path towards newer stones; the snow untouched around the graves from the nineteenth century.
Further on, we walk by a barn with the doors thrown open, glimpsing a tractor in the shadows, and a lit view in the darkness of fields beyond, blanched yellow grasses luminous against darker earth, framed by a side window, bright in the dark of the barn.
Back at home once more, and the new(ish) neighbors stop by. We have met them once before, stopping by their house to around Halloween to drop off some muffins when they first moved in, and they reciprocated by stopping in with some maple syrup from their own trees, boiled just this weekend.
Of course, I invited them in, and the house was clean, but as you may recall there is a trough of baby 2-week old chickens in the house not forty feet from the door they came in, so it may have smelled slightly like a…poultry barn to them. And, of course, I had earlier done some running on the treadmill and was planning to take a shower AFTER I gave the dogs a bath, so I was in an old ratty shirt that I really like, but should never wear… with holes in it, hair thrown up in a pony tail and sweat dried on (I’d thrown on a hooded sweatshirt for the walk, which I removed once home). We invited them in and made polite chat and called the dogs down from trying to jump up on the new people. After they left I shrugged and said, “oh, well, what can you do… ” and my husband said I could probably start by throwing out that raggedy shirt with all the holes (and I still actually haven’t yet because it’s the softest t-shirt ever)… pffffft, so it happens. I’m not trying to impress, but I definitely could do without the chicken brooder in the house (just a couple more weeks, if I can last, and then out to the coop) and I could try a little harder to find a replacement favorite weekend-in-the-house-only-soft-shirt.
But it’s spring, anyways. The dogs got a bath, I got cleaned up, and we dyed some hard-boiled eggs for Easter (is is just me, or was anyone else disappointed to crack open those pretty colored eggs as a child and find… hard-boiled eggs?? I’d keep cracking and expecting to find something else, something sweeter to match the fantastic colors, not dry yolks and slippery boiled whites). Here’s to hoping the snow is gone in time for hunting eggs in the backyard (and those will be candy eggs!).