I have been watching a hawk hunt from the dripping branch of a bare birch tree next to the pond. She and her mate have been hunting frogs for two days. We’ve witnessed a few strikes, some successful, some not. After a strike, the frogs take cover and all is silent for awhile. Hawks await their next chance, knowing that soon the too-short amphibian memory will send them croaking along the surface in search of each other and spring sex. Through the binoculars I see the hawk tense with complete focus. She swoops down from her branch, skims the surface, and flies off with a talon full of frog. Patience rewarded.
I aspire to patience like hers as this non-spring continues to try my fortitude. Two weeks ago Tom and I were hiking through a freak April blizzard. Yesterday we sweated and struggled through a 7 mile run under the hot sun. Earlier that morning I went skiing. Five days ago I spent the day in shorts and bare feet. Today the wood stove churns as if it is January. We are lurching our way awkwardly through the painful transition from winter to spring in the mountains of Vermont. It is positively not a National Geographic style documentary of poetic push and pull between waning snows, clearing skies, slow ice melts, and finally brave crocuses and daffodils poking through brown wet leaves. It is way suckier than that. We got our first glimpse of spring in February when the sun came out and gave us temperatures in the 70s. Snow melted like mad and Tom and I were trail running on mostly bare ground. March gave us a month’s worth of spectacularly sunny days and more than 50 inches of snow in the mountains. It proved to be, once again, one of my favorite months of the year — fabulous skiing, strengthening sun, lengthening days, and a delay to mud season.
April arrives like a horrid bitch and ruins everything. She is cruel, abusive, mind-bendingly confusing. She dangles in front of us a few tantalizingly warm and sunny days bookended by endless weeks of raw rain, sleet, mud, and sad gray skies. Spring is nowhere to be seen. To be clear, I am actually kind of loathe to say goodbye to winter. The outdoor fun has been plentiful. It’s the transitions — the getting from one to the next — that wreak havoc on me. For weeks my body hasn’t been able to figure out what season we’re in. I want to eat bread and curl up under blankets and pack on some more winter weight. It feels like November, except without the sweet anticipation of powder-filled mountain days on my skis.
Today it rains, but also snows, and, in a new weather twist I can't recall seeing before, it slushes. The pond roils with amphibian sex — frog arms and legs entangled in a crushing love embrace, making them easy prey. The hawks hunt.