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Averyt: A Mud-luscious World


How do I love thee, let me count the ways, Elizabeth Barrett Browning famously said. Well, when it comes to spring it's hard to count the ways and the different voices that have been raised in its praise.

Poets and lovers alike romanticize spring, so it's befitting that April not only ushers in the season but is also the month to honor poetry. Again and again over the ages, poets have tried to capture that special essence that defines spring, to express in words its miracle.

Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet, described the season as full of Giddiness. In spring he said, Don't open the door to the study and begin reading.Take down a musical instrument.

April, Edna St Vincent Millay tells us, comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers ... The sun is hot on my neck... The smell of the earth is good. And Gerard Manley Hopkins lifted his pen and voice to say, Nothing is so beautiful as spring- When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush...

Spring in Vermont, a friend of mine says, is about optimism. But the end of March this year tested my optimism - and my faith. I waited for warmth. I longed for the early tree buds and the serenade of birdsong.

Officially, spring arrived on March 20th. Yet here in the North Country we celebrated not with daisy chains but in a shower of snowflakes. The cold lingered on and on until almost the end of the month. But now at last the snow gods are curling up to sleep and wood nymphs dance again in the valley.

Being optimistic in April really is about holding on, knowing green will return and having the faith to envision it. Faith, what the Bible calls the evidence of things not seen, and hope, that intangible mystery Emily Dickinson described as the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all.

Hope and faith are for me what spring represents best. It's the magic of spring, and no one describes it better than word magician E.E. Cummings, who wrote ...in Just-spring ... the world is mud-luscious... School boys, he says, are shooting marbles and playing pirate. Girls are dancing hopscotch and skipping rope. You can tell, Cummings concludes, that it's just-spring and ... the world is puddle-wonderful.

Right now in Vermont it's just spring. The sap is flowing, the world is greening. Winter has huffed its last huff and warmth curls us in a bear hug. Hope in full bloom, in just spring, in Vermont.