ANNIVERSARY Countdown (Count-Up?)

Today is Friday, March 7th, 2014. We were married 986 days ago, on June 25th, 2011.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mud Season Turns to Spring

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.

Robert Frost, "Two Tramps in Mud Time"

It wasn't until I started dating a Vermonter that I ever heard the term "mud season."  Mud season is somewhere after winter and before spring, when the snow is melting and all of the soil is soft and slick.  You can sink a car up to the axles if you park on the wrong part of the lawn (as I have).  The town roads, heavy clay over gravel, are as hard packed as tarmac during the summer and fall, but in mud season, they're greasy and unpredictable, like driving on Thanksgiving gravy.  Snow tires are useful on snow, but the tread packs in during mud season and they turn to slicks, heavy and unhelpful.  There's a reason why tractors have tires five feet tall.

But this year, mud season only lasted a couple of weeks, during late February and early March.  We went for a long walk this morning up Buxton Road, dry as August; we looked down onto the Poultney River, flooded after Irene but looking like a vestigial arroyo now, broad expanses of rocks emerged from the flow and baking dry in the morning sun.  

We hooked up the outdoor water today, and Nora washed the patio furniture after a winter in the garage.  Yesterday, we vacuumed both cars, and washed all their windows inside and out, before taking friends up for a drive to Middlebury and dinner.  The four of us walked down the sidewalks of Middlebury after dinner at 8:00, in shirtsleeves and no hurry to get back to the car.

I have an extra day this weekend, given that the third Monday of April is Patriots' Day in Massachusetts, commemorating the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775.  We'll be using some of that day tomorrow swapping the winter snow tires for the summer performance tires on both cars.  I'm looking forward to the drive to Boston tomorrow, not so much for going back to Boston as for the first drive back on the new Falken tires, letting HabaƱero have a little extra leash.  Of course, the sheriffs and Staties know that mud season is over, too, and pay a little closer attention to little red cars on Vermont 4.  I'll be good, mostly.

We bought a pile of books in Middlebury, as we usually do when we encounter a good independent bookstore.  There are a few of them around here, Northshire Books in Manchester and the Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury—bookstores with personality, with literary intention.  Yesterday's take included Are You My Mother?, an illustrated novel by Alison Bechdel; the 2011 Best American Essays edited by Edwidge Danticat; When Women Were Birds, a writer's thoughts by Terry Tempest Williams; and Religion for Atheists, the new book by Alain de Botton.  I'm a complete sucker for anything de Botton writes; he's like a sharp car with its summer tires on, a little bit off-leash and completely captivating.  It doesn't matter where you're going, architecture or Proust or work or religion; you're going to have an exhilarating drive.

I got my course evaluations on Friday (I teach a pair of eight-week courses, so my semester was finished on March 23rd).  This semester felt like an auspicious confluence of events:  a small cohort, 26 undergrads in one course and 27 masters' students in the other; a strong blend of students in both courses; a syllabus that I get a lot of control in designing and delivering; and the possibility that this will be the last semester that either course is offered, due to some changes in curriculum starting this fall.  And that fortunate alignment of planets showed up in the course evaluations.
  • "I can be the designer I want to be."
  • "I learned to think of myself as a valuable person."
  • "Where would I lead the world?  What is my purpose?"
  • "I am not crazy or alone; I can ask questions and get help."
  • "...made us feel as if we were in control of our destiny/future."
  • "Being okay with life being unpredictable."
  • "I learned to recognize what I want out of architecture."
  • "I think more about how buildings can change and affect the world in a local and global sense."
  • "Each voice is important and there is not one sole answer for every problem."
They weren't talking about the course, or about me.  They were talking about themselves.

It's springtime.  Good things happen when you let yourself off the leash a little.

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