Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Spring Rant

Here at the end of April the beginning of May, I thought I'd give a bit of a rant. In case you haven't caught on yet, I don't really care much for spring. Oh yes, April showers bring May flowers and all that, but for me, that never really quite happens. For me the snows are melting quickly, leaving behind soggy ground and months worth of man's sins. Out here, 'man's sins' are few and far between, but in the cities and towns, they're everywhere. There's the little plastic shopping bags dangling from a bush or a fence, invisible under the snow all winter long. There's the bag of trash that some dog tore up before it got to the dumpster and never completely picked up (if at all). It's as if no one wants to touch trash after it's gone into a trash-bag once. At that point it suddenly becomes totally contaminated - life threatening if ever touched again without a full-body contamination suit like you see on TV. Then the snow melts away, revealing plastic water or juice bottles, or chip bags, or used paper towels, or the empty soda cans. We all know what we throw away. All the little wrappers, boxes, papers, clippings, and even hair from a trim, now all becoming visible as the snow melts away.

Currently, out in my soggy front yard, littered with snowmachines that have yet to be put away for the summer, is a carpet of dog hair. Last December and January, my dog decided it was time to shed. She'd go in and out several times a day and scrub her body in the snow - she really loves doing that. I think it's a doggy version of a bath. I'd give her a bath more often but without running water, it's really quite difficult and the creek water is very cold. She generally gets one in the summer though, when the water is a little warmer and I can make her fetch a stick from the creek. She really does love to fetch and it really must be that stick. At any rate, two or three plunges and she's thoroughly rinsed. But that was way last summer. Last winter, along with her gleeful scrubbing in the new snow, which left behind a brown spot, she apparently left behind far more hair than I was aware. I knew she was shedding, I even went out and combed her a time or two, but she really hates being combed and seldom holds still for it, so I knew about that hair, but really, someone could weave a living room rug from all the hair out there. What did she do, molt?

For years, my husband wanted a stack of firewood here in front of the house, convenient for splitting and stuffing in the stove only steps from the door. And since we generally cut a tree at a time that idea was fine by me. So for years, long about now, or a little later when the ground is dryer, I'd rake up all the chips of wood and bark left behind by that chore. This year, what with LOTS of cut wood, there was no way I was going to have all that wood in front of the house so room was made in the long neglected woodshed. Well, tired of my spring ritual of raking up wood chips and bark in front of the house, I figured what better place for that mess than in front of the woodshed where, for the most part, it can stay. Deep heavy sigh here, I still have to rake the front yard. I wonder if hair rakes up any easier than bark.

So yeah, spring, for me, is the ugliest time of year. The snow is no longer white as all its accumulated dust is now on the surface. Nothing is green yet. You can't walk anywhere without getting your shoes full of snow or slipping and sliding all over the place. I did manage to make it down to the boats and made sure all the plugs were in, so when the river comes up they'll float. There's certainly no driving a snowmachine down there. Well actually, that's not quite true. If we REALLY had to, we could drive down there, but that would be driving through mud on both ends and having to turn the machine around by hand on that end - not fun.

My walk was not a stroll in the park. It was very slow and diligent, every step had to be taken with care. I even took my snowshoes, just in case. You see, there's this one part where, when it fills with spring snow-melt runoff, the icy water is generally around three feet deep. This is the place I had brought my snowshoes for. I knew the trail would still be there, but that didn't mean that the water under that trail wasn't deep. As it turns out, no water yet. Back to the walk. Since the trail goes through the woods, it's still about a foot or so deep in most places, but it was soft. I was lucky, most of the time the trail held me up, but there were plenty of times when it didn't and the foot doesn't always go straight down. It's not so bad when the foot slips forward - you gain a few inches. It's a little irritating when the foot slips backward - those two or three inches make a difference. It's awkward as hell when the foot slips out - I mean, how much have you had to drink? The absolute worst is when the foot slips in, under you, it's all you can do to not end up in a heap, there's just no way you can get your other foot over there where it needs to be to keep you off the ground. But that's not the only frustrations of walking this time of year. There's the deceptively solid trail that suddenly decides not to be so solid, only after you've trusted your body and soul to its strength - then you go down that foot or so rather abruptly, and you may or may not encounter one of the slippery problems enumerated above. This always happens right after you've lifted one foot to put it in front of the other, so once again, you're left staggering. You really should try paying attention to each and every step for a quarter mile, though I don't recommend you do it in snow your first time. It can so easily develop into a cussing issue if I was a cussing kind of person. For those of you trying it along your nice safe sidewalks, I'll give you the first dozen steps or so before something (very small) distracts you and you don't think about the next step or two. I totally understand. It's really very boring. It's not unlike walking heel to toe along a line that's not at all straight, but at least you have a task to hold your concentration there.

Ah, but that's enough of my rant about spring. Summer will come soon enough and the trees will start shedding their pollen, and then I'll be miserable for a healthy half of the summer. If I didn't love my job I'd hate summer too.


Hart Johnson said...

This was fascinating to me. I moved to Michigan in 2000 and think WE have a miserable spring (all four hours of it--my real complaint is its brevity, because winter lingers too long) but We usually have melts in the middle, so our thawing pains aren't nearly as great!

Anonymous said...

Wow does that sound icky! You don't have running water, though? Ugh. Being one who hates snow (and still is thinking of moving up to New Hampshire)this sounds like such a colossal pain I can hardly fathom it. With any luck summer will come soon and it will bring many more rewards than this Spring mess.

Anna L. Walls said...

I wrote this article Saturday morning, after making that trek Friday afternoon. I attempted to make that same trek this afternoon only to discover that the mentioned spring runoff place not only now has water running in it but most of the trail that had been there Friday was not gone. Snowshoes don't float. I returned to the house for some waders and couldn't find them. I'll try again tomorrow, when I have more patience for the search for waders. Suffice it to say the snow is melting fast. I'll likely be going to work in a couple weeks.

S.M. Carrière said...

I have to agree, Anna. Spring is my least favourite season. Although, it came quickly this year, and there were no spring snows, so it wasn't nearly as mucky here in Ottawa as it usually is.

Katie Gates said...

So interesting. I never would have imagined that Spring in Alaska would not be beautiful!