Last week, spring had arrived in full force at my home in the woods of Maine. The sun had melted away the many layers of snow that had encased my yard for months, and the dirt road leading uphill to my house had turned into a soupy mess that could only be navigated by a true mud season veteran with a four-wheel drive.
Winter really was over — or so I thought. Wearing a T-shirt and jeans, I had walked through the woods with my dog, Oreo, to see the stream out back high with rushing water. The chives were popping up in my herb garden. Everything pointed to warmer days ahead.
Then it snowed — and not just a dusting. It really snowed.
Looking out at the landscape cloaked once again in white, I know it’s only a matter of time before it all melts away, but I can’t help but be discouraged. After a long winter, I — like many Mainers — am ready for green grass.
To top it all off, I’ve recently been sick — twice. Some sort of nasty cold, I think, one that included a couple days battling a fever, followed by a lingering cough. And so, as you can imagine, I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself.
Unfortunately, this sort of glum attitude isn’t at all conducive to formulating interesting writing topics. For this week’s column, I had originally planned to write about all of the interesting signs of spring we get here in Maine. For example, the turkey vultures that return to nest in the cliffs by my house. These massive birds, which at a distance look to be eagles, fly in circles as they ride thermals — columns of rising air that form when the sun warms the ground. If you live near a group of these birds — or a “wake” — they’re impossible to miss. I watched them return last week. I wonder how they feel about all this snow.
Upon arriving at work on Monday, I said to my editor, “I can’t write about signs of spring now. Look at it outside.”
She replied with something along the lines of, “Well you could do it in a funny way.”
But it’s not funny. I’m grumpy, and I refuse to be anything else. So I tried to come up with another topic. The list was short and pitiful. I started writing about the baffling power dynamic between my dog and two cats. It was a bad idea. So in the end I thought, why not write about my frustrations — with the weather, with being sick and with writing. I’m sure many of you can relate.
I also thought you might be interested in a bit of an update on our life on Oreo Hill. Despite my griping, it’s mostly good.
My husband, Derek, has been working to renovate an apartment building which used to be an old nursing home and therefore is clearly haunted. He’s also growing a beard, just because.
Oreo, we’ve learned, has anaplasmosis, a now common disease transmitted by the black-legged tick (or deer tick), the same that carries Lyme disease. Anaplasmosis is very similar to Lyme and can be treated with antibiotics, though our veterinarian has told us not to treat Oreo until he is noticeably experiencing symptoms — stiffness of limbs, that sort of thing.
On a more positive note, Oreo has recently been enjoying my mission to find him higher quality meals. Just last night he tried a Newman’s Own beef stew with peas and carrots (for dogs). Oreo’s also enjoying the warmer weather. In fact, just before the recent snow, he was splashing around in his kiddy pool, and he learned a new trick, which involves sprinting and leaping into the pool to make a really big splash.
My cats Bo and Arrow are the same as always, though Bo recently developed a fascination with the wand I bought from Harry Potter world at Universal Studios. No matter where I put it, he finds it and will roll it around on the floor for hours. Usually while I’m trying to sleep.
As for me, I’ve recently submitted final edits for my next guidebook, “Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine,” which is set to be published in June, if all goes well. Now I’m in the process of planning book talks and signing events, and I’m planning out my garden and outdoor adventures for the spring — when it decides to truly arrive.
If you’re also dreaming of warmer days and planning some hiking adventures, I just updated my “1-minute hike” map, which makes it easy to search the many hikes I’ve documented over the years. Just click on an icon and some general information about the hike will pop up, including the hike’s difficulty and length, and if you want to learn more or watch the video, simply click on the link.
I hope you didn’t mind my rambling too much this week. Sometimes when you don’t know what to write, you just have to start writing and see where it takes you.