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The Lie of Spring

Springtime is a lie. At least up here in Maine it is. Just last Thursday, the temperature was -2°F on my drive into work; today we got another three inches of the white stuff. The snowbanks around the driveway are hovering at around seven feet tall and the backyard will have snow on it until May. I’m not kidding: there’s this one little shady spot that will keep a steadily shrinking snow patch ‘til May. At least that means I can put off the lawn-mowing.

People from away think it’s a big joke when we Mainers say we only have three seasons — winter, mud, and July -– but it’s really true. The snows can start in October (or even earlier up to the County) and continue well into April, at which point it all melts, widening the potholes in our paved roads right into the abyss and turning our dirt roads –- and we have many –- into thick, sticky swamps. April showers bring no May flowers: they bring muck and black flies and mosquitoes, and the rains often continue right up until July. When it finally stops raining, everyone’s lawn quickly dries up and turns brown. After July, well, it’s not that long until October again, now is it?

In all honesty, I never knew that spring was an actual season until my freshman year at a Connecticut college. Like a good girl, I’d gone home for spring break, helping the family shovel out from at least one snow/slush storm. One week later I went back south. There had been a little snow on the ground in Connecticut when I left, but upon my return it was sunny and nearly 70° and the grass was green and dry. I remember calling my mom (this being in the Dark Ages before email) and saying, “I get it! I understand spring!” And then after graduation I moved back to Maine and haven’t seen a springtime since.

I don’t care if the calendar claims that the first day of "spring" is just a few days away; whereas most of the rest of the country (except perhaps for you hardy Minnesotans and North Dakotans) is expecting warming days, cool nights, tiny pale green leaf buds, and cheery robins, I’m expecting more snow – anyone remember the 2007 Patriots’ Day storm where we got 8+ inches on April 16th? The Easter Bunny I can believe in, but spring in Maine is truly a myth.

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