There's talk of spring around here, which disorients me each time I hear it. I'm still waiting for winter to start. It's been such a strange one this year - temperatures all over the gauge and of great extremes for the season, and with hardly any snow at all. The usual thick blanket of white that covers the left-behind mess of the inevitable incomplete autumn cleanup just has not arrived to do its beautiful blanketing (and covering up) thing it usually does. I think it might be a long mud season. Nobody's favorite.
Regardless, I've been hearing Steve talk to the neighbors about tapping the trees. (As you might imagine, all that talk and speculation about tapping the trees is just as important and takes just as much time (quite usually, more time) as actually tapping those trees and making the syrup itself.) The temperatures look just right for sugaring in the forecast ahead - warm in the days, cool at night, so the sap can do its thing. Perhaps we'll get some taps out there today. And I'll look at the calendar and block off the Sundays ahead as we know now that they will be spent boiling, standing under the woodshed (someday we'll get fancy and make a sugar shack. Maybe.), boots thick with mud, steam coming off the evaporator and a healthy mix of warm sun and cool wind in the air. I do love long boiling days. It's nothing that requires a lot of work, not manual work anyway. But we are outside all day. It feels like an acclimation of sorts - a slow start to what is to come. Because soon enough, we hit the ground running. Sheep will need shearing, hoofs trimmed, bulbs planted, seeds started, garden readied, chicks ordered, baby goats (might) arrive, and on and on.
But it isn't just the wacky weather that's leading me to believe spring really is around the corner. It's also the calendar and the slight shift I feel in our family days. Last week heralded the end of Calvin's first nordic ski season, with the crew bringing home the state championship title. (A slightly weak and shortened season though it was, for it turns out that snow is a pretty big part of that whole nordic skiing thing. Who knew?). Ezra just wrapped up a long and wonderful run as Linus in a production of the Charlie Brown Musical. And though there is always the hope for spring skiing, this week marks the end of our regular trip to the mountain (and the last Tuesday dress of the year as well!).
And just this weekend, everyone decided on their summer camps and adventures - deposits mailed off and calendar filling up. As the talk of summer camps heated up and final decisions were made, this little one piped in with her request. Not one to allow for her own exclusion, and never one to be called or considered a "baby" (the horrors!), she was quite certain that a few weeks away at sleepaway camp would be just right for her this summer. And while we didn't indulge that request exactly, we did find a nice and just-right day camp for a week that she's beyond thrilled with. Never has a four year old of ours done such a thing or wanted such a thing. (I'm tickled to be surprised by them. Over and over again. And I wonder, how can five children from the same family be so completely different? But they are, and I love it so.)
Though this winter was an exceptional one, I do feel that they're all just going a bit faster than I remember them ever to have done before. The seasons are flying, and with them, the years. Cliche, and yet it's just oh so true. Spring comes faster each year, I'm sure of it. But each time, there is something new, something a little bit different than the one before, something that makes this season - quick though it may be flying by - all its own. And those little things, those tiny details, they make right now pretty fabulous, don't they? I think so. Whatever the season.