Generally mud is a good sign of the change of seasons. This year we had snow then mud, then snow again, then mud, and snow once more before the ground decided to thaw out completely and let the mud reign. There are some sayings I like to hold close when it comes to talking about the seasons in Maine – “We’ve got 9 months of winter and 3 months of rough sleddin” or the three seasons, “Summer, winter, and mud season.” Spring in Maine isn’t like spring I’ve experienced elsewhere. It takes longer to wake up, the fields stay brown even as the sun is higher in the sky, and mud abounds. Spring in Virginia seemed to pop overnight. Leaflets and buds appeared in the afternoon on trees that were bare in the morning. Wildlife and birds arrived in hoards. And in Wyoming it came in the forms of grass greening and little yellow flowers appearing in the hills; all the while snowstorms continued to arrive on the doorstep. But I asked Abby the other day what spring was like in Pennsylvania where she grew up. Dreadful was close to the word she used – monochromes of gray across a lifeless landscape. The sky stayed gray and the land had no variety to it; the hills kept everything enclosed. She continued to explain that upon moving to Maine a decade ago, she discovered there was such contrast between the blue sky (and lots of it) and the yellow and brown fields and the trees on the hills in variegated shades of purple on the faraway hills, blue of the mountains and red on budding hardwoods. And the evergreens were the first real green of the new season. I realized she was right – the spring in Maine is more than mud and dull tones. Perhaps as we get older our eyes pick out the beauty of the season with more clarity, but growing up, mud seemed to be the norm.
And what is normal? This post came to me as I was cleaning the brooder where our 50 goslings will live for two weeks before our 250 broiler chicks arrive at the beginning of May. The thought of 50 goslings just pushed me over the edge with anticipation. We are doubling the number we had last year. And raising last year’s group was truly a delight. Thinking about the arrival of these goslings and chicks I recalled being young and every few Easters my brother, sister and I would get chicks or ducklings or goslings. Once in a great while there would be a bunny even. We’d come downstairs on Easter morning to find a box alive with peeping, some 2 or 3 yellow fluff balls looking back at us.
When Abby got home later that day and I crawled out of the brooder I asked her if she used to get chicks or goslings as a kid around Easter. She responded with a “No” and quickly reminded me that I grew up on a farm. Suddenly it hit me that young children getting presents of baby chickens or geese in the springtime wasn’t a normal event parents did annually. I had to laugh about how ordinary it felt to me when in actuality our family was the anomaly.
So now we await the phone call from the post office, telling us to come pick up our box of peeping peepers. This won’t be like any Easter morning I can ever remember, but I hope this becomes the norm.