Sunday, June 17, 2007

Swinging and blogging

Across the fields, the big haying machines have almost finished the first cut of the season. I love watching the waist-high grasses fall into long corduroy stripes. One morning this week we walked through a neighbor’s field just after hay had been cut. By evening, it had all been gathered up into gigantic cylinders. The next morning, the cylindrical bales were gone.

These magical machines appear a couple times a year on our hill, markers of the changing seasons. Every year that I am here, I learn more subtle signals of the seasons within seasons. Between first cut and second cut (August) is our true Vermont summer, if you ignore the standard wisecrack that there are really only two seasons here (winter and July, the month of darn poor sledding).

From May to June, for example, is the season of frenzied construction. Although the building season is soft this year, it is still impossible to get a carpenter, an electrician, or even a professional carpet cleaner if you call now. While consuming their stores of root vegetables over the winter, the locals also planned and plotted all their projects for the spring, then flung themselves into action as soon as snow and mud receded. Recent migrants compete for tradesmen by throwing money at the problem. The rest of us beg, plead, and vow to plan further ahead next time.

Having grown up down south where the change of seasons is more subtle, these crisp breaks from one micro-season to another intrigue me. I guess they interest my neighbors, too, since we seem to spend an amazing amount of time talking about the weather. And about microclimates. And about how various forms of human activity relate to the weather.

Today’s weather report is optimistic. This morning’s overcast skies are expected to give way to bright sunshine, with maybe an afternoon thunderstorm to follow. Right now the weather is perfect to sit on my porch swing in my flannel pajamas, a dog at my feet and my happy little fountain gurgling, watching the big machines get the hay in before the rain comes.

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