This is the season when I yearn for sidewalks. Lovely flat, hard sidewalks that don't give way under your foot. Sidewalks on which you can wear regular shoes instead of boots. Sidewalks that your dog can walk on without dragging home half a ton of--you know, that brown stuff that the earth and the clouds make together.
Its name is mud.
Mud season is in full swing in these parts, and our long, steep, unpaved driveway has never been worse. Our Subaru is coated to the roof with a thick layer of mud and road salt, but I don't feel too bad about that because all the other cars (ninety-five percent of which are Subarus, the state car of Vermont) look the same. I have often stopped myself just in time from getting into somebody else's mud-covered Subaru. Recently my husband left ours--unlocked, of course, because there are some advantages to living in this mud-spattered state--in a parking lot, and when he got back found that the driver's seat was pushed all the way up. Some poor woman (or a very short man) had gotten in by mistake, adjusted the seat, then realized she was in the wrong car and got out in a hurry.
The first winter I spent in Vermont I wondered why natives walked around with horizontal stripes of grayish, crusty matter on the back of their pants, right at calf-level. This condition seemed to affect women in particular. It wasn't until these stripes started appearing on my own pants that I realized that they were due to the back of the legs hitting the edge of the floor when one exits a mud-and-salt-covered car. Women, having shorter thigh bones, find it more difficult to get out without touching the edge.
But one good thing about mud season is how madly it makes one long for spring. As Tristan and Isolde knew so well, half the fun is in the longing. Accordingly, I bought three packets of spinach seeds today. They are sitting on my kitchen counter waiting for tonight's snow. If we get even an inch, I'll go out and plant them tomorrow. I don't know for certain that planting spinach in the snow yields an earlier crop. But I do know how good it makes me feel.
I also went into a frenzy of houseplant TLC. I installed a humidifier (better late than never) in the sun porch where my plants live. I watered and spritzed and fertilized the geraniums which, bless their hearts, have bloomed non-stop all winter. I did the same for the jade plant, the orchids, the lemon tree, and the giant pony tail plant which is beginning to look worried that its top is about to hit the ceiling. I also watered the rosemary, and as usual it overflowed its drainage dish onto the slate floor, which I then mopped.
It was while I was mopping that I saw the ants. A barely visible but determined column of them was marching up the side of the rosemary pot. I don't normally rejoice at the sight of ants in the house, but today I did because, like the mud, they are an unmistakable sign that things are waking up out there.
Doesn't it make you crazy, how relative happiness is?