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March 5, 2009

This Wonderful Life

This week, for the first time in months, my driveway was somewhat free of snow. I spotted patches of grass that have been lying, frozen, under many layers of ice and snow and ice and snow. The pumpkin that had been sitting at the end of my walkway when the first snow of the season buried it, made its reappearance, much worse for wear.

People in Upstate New York have a complex relationship with Mother Nature and her seasons. Summer is like a juicy tomato for the soul - full and sweet and far too rare. We love it, but we resent it a little, too for being so beautiful, yet so brief.

Autumn is similarly brilliant and short. Before the leaves have fully turned, they’re already giving up the ghost and lining the streets. Just look at that pumpkin of mine.

We are especially conflicted about Mother Nature’s longest season, Old Man Winter.

He’s fun at first. He’s the spry old elf, inviting you go sledding the very minute that enough clean, white snow covers the hillsides.

He’s all jingle bells and hot cocoa and peppermint candy. He makes you want to start a fire and sing ``Let It Snow,’’ and mean it. But by March, it’s a totally different story.

He’s no longer the jovial, grandfatherly figure. He’s bony and haggard. His beard is streaked with mud and his fingernails are dirty. He needs to brush his teeth. Most of all, he needs to crawl back to when he came so we can forget about him, at least for a few months.

It’s been great, Old Man Winter, but we’re ready for Sister Spring to make her appearance. We’re ready for her to coax the electric spires of forsythia, the tender fingers of crocus sprouts and the sunny-side-up faces of daffodils.

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