Spring in Vermont is kind of like a puppy trying to climb stairs for the first time. It’s slow going, maybe it will hang out on a step to catch for a little bit, and sometimes it may stumble down a couple, but eventually it does get to the top and does a little celebratory dance. Similarly, spring here is a gradual process punctuated with fluctuating temperatures (perhaps 40 one day and 25 the next) and pockets of snowstorms, but the icy hands of winter finally release their grip and make way for a change. The other day, I went in search of signs of spring around Stowe and wasn’t disappointed.
One of the earliest signs of spring is smoke and steam coming from the roofs of sugarhouses, like the clouds billowing from the roof of Stowe Maple Products.
Sugaring season starts as the sap begins to flow in the sugar maple trees. It is collected, brought to the sugarhouse, and then boiled down into the golden syrup we know and love. A good season has warm days and cold nights. As this is one of the first signs of spring and snow is hopefully still in abundance during this time, we are able to enjoy sugar on snow.
Those warms days and cold nights soon turn into warmer days and not-so-cold nights and we get a thaw, heralding the start of Vermont’s unofficial fifth season, Mud Season. Our yards become marshes covered in dead grass (I know ours is) and driveways and roads become obstacle paths that must be carefully navigated if you’re going to arrive at your destination with all the pieces of your car still attached. The real problem isn’t necessarily the mud—though you will see lines at the car wash, another sign that spring is coming.
The real problem are the ruts that appear in the road and steer your car for you akin to those cars you find in funhouses—you steer one way, but the road is trying to take you another. Just make sure to give yourself some extra time and you’ll make it there just fine.
Eventually, we dry out and tinges of green appear in yards, like here in front of the Stowe Free Library.
Buds begin to peek out on limbs, giving trees a gold or reddish glow depending on the species. We see fewer and fewer overcast days. While we most definitely enjoy the winter here, there’s something to be said for not having to wear two or three layers of clothing when you want to take a walk. And spring does not mean the end of winter’s fun—there’s still snow on the mountains and trails, so skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding are still options. So, get on out there and have some fun while the sun is shining, for soon we get on to our next topic—Spring Cleaning!