Ready, Not Ready

Thu, 03/18/2021 - 5:00pm

Winters have been following a new pattern, mild through most of the darkening days of fall and into the winter with sporadic rounds of deep but not long-lasting cold. Springs are late in coming.

The daffodils around my house are poking up through the ground; some years the earliest are in bloom, yellow petals pushing themselves out of their green sheaths before the stems supporting them have grown tall. This year I have looked in all the south-facing spots and found nothing, even at the turn onto Mansion Road where some configuration of the land has long created a little warm spot.

A few days ago everything seemed on a bold forward march then the cold wind returned and they halted in place, while the fading little snowdrops, early white ground cover flowers that came to me in a bag, salvaged from an abandoned farmyard in New York State.

Even the dog, looking ratty and winter clumpy, has not yet started to shed as if her coat has not been tricked by the lengthening days. The vacuum canister was less full yesterday than on some days in January.

It has been sunny and windy and surprisingly dry. The swale in the north pasture, a low place where water collects in winter rains, is nearly dry, no more than a dark shadow where it was a few weeks ago; only one small spot in the front fi eld, where blue flag iris will bloom too soon, still holds water.

It was wind we had this winter, worse and more often than I remember for some time. One night I dreamed of snow in the morning, not the pretty even cover of this year nor the towering drifts and nearly clear fi eld, which I know were not a figment of my imagination only because I have photographs. It was not the freak blizzard that managed to fully cover every window in my house, obscuring the world in the way of heavy fog, nor was it that blinding after-the-storm clear blue and shimmering white, none of the momentary illusion of a world turned pure and clean, with everything bent and broken temporarily made whole.

It was just snow, lots of snow, new and clean but with a gray cast, under a pale sky. My dreams, or what of them I manage to keep from falling away as I float up out of sleep, have hardly ever had to them any story line and this was no exception, I simply got up and looked out on an overcast world.

The time changed last weekend, or, more accurately, the way in which we mark time shifted. In spring and fall, both, it always seems after the fact to me, an afterthought, a nuisance.

We did not quite lose the mornings, the sunrise didn’t squeak back to the later side of 7 a.m. After a lifetime spent reliant upon a wrist watch I gave up when the last one died and joined the rest of the world — it sometimes seems — in having my time-telling phone at hand. It would re-set automatically, I turned ahead the hands — yes, the hands — of the clock on the living room wall sometime Saturday and promptly forgot about the whole thing.

There are times I wonder if the management of the Weather Channel — the folks who gave us named winter storms because, who knows why, because they needed more drama — behaves in such an appalling manner solely to see if people are paying attention. When I finally remembered the time had changed in the night I looked at the fast easy phone app which was in place when I bought the phone only to find it was wrong. By about an hour. As were both Nantucket and New York City, because if you’re going to be a weather geek you have to have more than one town’s weather immediately at hand.

As of this writing, New York is still wrong. The first to be fixed was our larger, wealthier, more powerful cousin to the east, Nantucket, even more at sea than we. Sometime between yesterday morning and night, the Tuesday after the clocks were turned, the sunrise and sunset on Block Island were finally corrected.

Perhaps, in New York, those looking at the weather are focused on dreams of summer coming to their seasonal homes, on Nantucket and even Block Island, places where the sun doesn’t fight its way through tall buildings, where it fills the sky, rising from the ocean in the east all year, falling into the water from even the highest elevations in the darkest months.

It is soft but not soggy outside, the ground is smudged where it is often sodden in March. This year, so far, there is no feel of a mangy old lion that simply will not leave. Still spring is coming too fast, as it always does.

My mother, a young teacher from the mainland when she first arrived, said “they” told her this was the day the West Siders planted their potatoes in the attic. Never sure who they were or what that meant other than it was time to make ready for a new season.