A TOUCH OF SILVER: Weather Or Not

In the age of quarantine and pandemic, I’ve found that nothing impacts my mood quite like the weather.

Here in northern Vermont, we’re halfway-ish through spring, and we’ve only had a handful of days that have met seasonal expectations. For the most part, it’s been a chilly and dry season. Last weekend, temperatures finally crept into the low 70s for a day, and there have been a few 60s here and there. Mostly, though, the thermometer has hung around the 40s and 50s.

Today there’s a high of 62, and then we won’t get back into that decade of warmth for another week. This coming weekend – Mother’s Day weekend – includes a couple of inches of snow in the forecast for Saturday, along with a partly sunny high in the mid-40s on Sunday. 

At a time when silver linings don’t exactly run screaming at me out of the blue (it’s been nearly three weeks since I wrote an installment of A Touch of Silver), this sort of weather makes positivity an even greater challenge. 

But the silver is still there. Or rather, the green, which in turn makes the silver.

Trees are budding. The birches have a fluorescent green tinge around their branches, and the maples possess a pink glow that precedes their own emerald explosions. In the backyard, the lilac bushes are beginning to birth bouquets of purple. 

The lawn was thick and tall enough to mow for the first time this past Sunday. We let around two-thirds of our backyard go wild every year for the butterflies and bees, but it’s always satisfying to manicure the remaining portion, along with the front. 

The flower gardens are exploding, too. The lungwort is vibrating with pink and purple, tulips are getting ready to open, and the spirea is covered in the pumpkin orange of baby leaves. 

All of this happens in spite of the colder weather. Flowers and trees that bud and blossom this time of year are hearty and able to withstand the challenges of spring. They set a good example for the likes of me.

And whatever snow that falls on Saturday won’t last long. Growing up in a farm family, we referred to snow at this time of year as “poor man’s fertilizer,” covering the fields in a layer of white before melting into the soil to provide nourishment. The flakes that cover our driveway won’t need to be shoveled, and frankly, it’s been so dry this spring that even I will halfheartedly accept the moisture in whatever form it takes. 

The other silver lining is what’s been accomplished already in the few days of warmth we’ve had. 

The plan going into this spring was to rebuild our vegetable garden. The raised beds we had were in rough shape, so we were planning to build new ones, re-landscape the whole area, and fence it in to keep the cats and various wildlife out. It was a grand design that I didn’t think we’d have enough time to achieve, what with work and other obligations.

The pandemic pretty much cleared the board of all those things, though, and in the time it would have taken me to just get the raised beds built on my own during the April school break, my wife and I built the beds, got the fence put up, and got the landscaping three-quarters of the way done. A bit more compost for the beds and some pea stone for the paths, and it’ll be a done deal. 

The time spent working together on this created memories that will keep me warm, even if the temperatures won’t. That’s a touch of silver that won’t fade for a long, long time.

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