Monday, March 2, 2009

Change of seasons, change of heart

The side yard: Friday

The same side yard: yesterday

The side yard one more time: today

I think Mother Nature must have a wicked sense of humor. Apparently she thinks its funny to tease people with beautiful warm spring temperatures one day, and then smack us with icy cold winter ones the next. Keep in mind that while you are out frolicking (or tossing around a frisbee) on those warm days, Mother Nature is plotting against you. She is bringing together several weather systems that, when joined, make up a huge mass of mess. And that mess is heading right for you. What, you may be asking, is the problem here? I mean, April (or in this case, March) showers bring May flowers right? Well that would be case if the huge storm steaming up the east coast right was bringing RAIN SHOWERS. But, alas. The storm headed for us here in New England is bringing snow. LOTS AND LOTS OF SNOW. It is forecast that we are supposed to be getting 10-15 INCHES! And Methuen, where Im located, is going to be right in the middle.

This isnt a storm that blankets ski country in Northern Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. This also isnt strictly a coastal storm that slams into the Cape and Islands. No, this storm is supposed to wallop us here in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The "strike zone" runs from Rhode Island up through central Mass and Boston, to the North Shore, Merrimack Valley, and Southern New Hampshire. The Shelties and I live in that snow-belt: North of Boston; the boundary between the Merrimack Valley and North shore; on the border New Hampshire.

Yeah. Just our luck I guess. I mean, Im not saying that I wish this bohemouth of a storm on anyone else. Lord knows we've all had enough of the winter weather. But this is getting just a bit ridiculous. I mean, I understand that it is only March 1st and we've technically got a few more weeks of winter to go. (The groundhog did see his shadow this year, right??) But I think every one is pretty sick of the winter. Everyone is sick of getting up and shoveling, spreading ice melt, and driving behind plows on the highway. Everyone is sick of the cold temperatures that bite at any skin left exposed between layers and layers of clothes. The dogs are sick of wading through chest height cold white soup, getting ice and snow balls tangled in their hair, and having to wear booties. They dont like being this inactive. And maybe, for me anyways, this is where the root of the problem lies.

This winter has been tough. For obvious reasons. Im usually pretty active in the winter, which in turn, means the girls are pretty active too. We usually enjoy our winter walks on packed paths through the woods and fields. We never go out when it is really bitterly cold, but on the milder days, we can usually always be found out of doors enjoying our strolls. But this year we've been essentially house (and hospital) bound. The few times that we have been able to get out and about have just been within the past few weeks. Other than that, we've pretty much been winter shut ins.

I think that this is really why I am feeling so sick of winter. I cant ever remember being "fed up" with a season before. I mean, I LOVE living in New England. The change of seasons here are unlike any where else. Usually one season dominates another. Sure, people in Alaska may see spring, summer and fall, but they are usually all rolled into one brief interlude between winters. And in places like Florida, theres only one season with slight temperatire fluctuations that give you variations of that season; that season being summer. In New England though, we see every single change of season with really bright and predictable differences. In winter we get cold temperatures and snow. Sure, some years it is colder and snowier than others, but every winter is fairly the same. Temps that range from the balmy 40's to the bone chilling minus teens. Then comes spring. Spring brings the milder temperatures and warmer breezes. The beginning of spring brings the surplus of water from winters thaw and April's showers. The end of spring brings the really nice warmth that allows you to spend all day outside, and the renewal of life. The trees become full again and the flowers bloom so fast and so bright, that the previous world of gloom and gray is suddenly transformed into a bright world of color. Then spring changes almost imperceptiably into summer. The start of summer brings warmer weather, but this warmer air is still laden with the perfumed scent of springs still blooming flowers. As the temperatures continue to rise, the real fun begins. Swimming in any kind of water you can find: pools in back yard, lakes and streams in the mountains, and in the ocean at the beach. All of the other really fun outdoor activities can restart too: biking, kayaking, and hiking. True, just like with winter, the exteme temperatures of summer can grow tiring as well. By then end of summer you are bored with and sick of the really blistering hot dog days of August, but just as you are growing weary of it, summer changes to fall. Fall truly is a season that may not be able to be fully descibed here. I just may not be able to give the season the justice it deserves. The temperatures cool back down again, but dont immediately get cold; only more comfortable. You can shut of the air-conditioners and throw your windows open wide. The walks can grow longer and more frequent now that your not having to go at odd hours like in the early morning or late evening to avoid the heat. Although the leaves on the trees and shrubs are nearing the end of their life's cycle, they really come alive. The cooler temperatures allow the foliage to explode with color: the rich red, orange and yellow hues paint everything that the eye can see. The whole landscape is transformed. People from all over the world come to see YOUR beautiful back yard. It really is something truly amazing to behold. This is the season when you are most grateful to live here in New England. But before you can get really used to and comfortable with the season, it changes once again. The end of fall sees the cool temperatures plummit into COLD temperatures. The beautiful colored leaves continue to wither and then fall away. The landscape once again becomes barren; but it still retains a certain beauty about it. The sunsets become earlier, and the skies become grayer: a sign of the snow and winter to come.

Although every season has it's own beauty and magic to it, once the novelty of the season has worn off, some of its charm starts to wear away too. And of course other things happening in life can affect your feelings about a season as well. This season has been hard not only on me, but on a lot of people out there. On his Bedlam Farm blog, author Jon Katz has been writing on this very subject for almost the whole of this winter. The tough economic times, changing world around us and our own personal situations have become a cause for great concern for us all. We find ourselves worrying more; living in fear of what is to come. When will the other shoe drop? What is to become of us all? I think that the bleakness of winter and the inability to occupy our time with more positive activities has lead us down a path of more anxiety about turbulance and turmoil that has surrounded us. But there is hope.

Spring will find us. It will come to us all. It is Natures way of reminding us that there are still things to look forward to. If we can just get through the gray murkiness of where we are now, we will find ourselves in a much better, warmer and more colorful place. And again, this is both in terms of the seasons and in our lives. If we put everything into perspective, we will stop worrying so much about the future, but be able to look at it with a more positive eye. We will be able to get back to basics, and really find out what is most important to each of us. If we can just get through this next winter storm, and look at the beauty of the snow as it falls and decorates our landscape for perhaps the last time this year, we will be able to appreciate it (instead of laothe it). And when the warmth and hope of spring finally does come, we will be able to appreciate that more too.

So Im going to try and keep my spiritis up through these last few weeks of winter. Hopefully the start of spring will also see the restart of my life. I'll hopefully be able to get back to work and ease a little bit of my economic worry. And just as the warmer weather arrives, I'll also hopefully be able to really get out and enjoy that too. But in the mean time, Im going to enjoy the flakes as they fall today, and really marvel in the beauty that will hopefully be the last of winter.
**For any one who has missed seeing the Shelties in this post, fear not! Here are some pictures of the girls on our recent walks; the one taken with the grass was on Friday (temps in the 50's!!) and the snowy ones were taken last night before the snow started to really fall and pile up (when I wrote this blog). The girls ask if you could kindly refrain from laughing at them in their coats and booties. They wear them to protect from the snow and ice. (And sand and salt used to treat the public path; which is why they're wearing them in the picture from Friday too!) I also apologize for the bright lights in the pictures (those would be the reflective strips on their booties, caught in the flash!) and the "Scarey eyes" on the girls (also due to the stupid flash). And as of right now, we probably have about 10 inches or so...I havent been brave enough to actually go out and measure!

Heidi sporting the latest Sheltie winter-wear

A picture of Shelby doing what Shelties do on lazy snow-days. "Im sorry, did you just ask me if I wanted to go out? In THAT??"


  1. Oreo and Misty wear boots too. I hate exposing their paws to rock salt.

    We were just on the western fringe of the storm, so we only got a few inches. Let's up a warm front is behind the storm:)

  2. Reflective boots , what a great idea! Diana

  3. I meant "hope" a warm front, not "up". How did that mistake happen? It's not even a valid typo. LOL. I'm blaming it on blogger :)

  4. Luckily we don't get cold enough to need boots. I hope spring comes quickly for you.

  5. I like the colors and layout of your blog, J.

    Being Massholes we should be accustomed to the variable snow/sun weather inconsistencies. It's frustrating, but totally expected.