Which means the solstice is not too far off. Our house guests have gone home, but the last pair of days they were with us Vermont pulled out all the stops and lobbed damp, grey, winter-like weather our way. Earlier in the week I’d already fished out a hooded sweatshirt for one of them, who found even the balmy spring days a tad too chilly, and by the end of the week had exhausted my supply of backup blankets for the guest bedroom.
The other phenomenon my house guests found surprising: the length of the day this time of year. We don’t have white nights per se, but when I set out each morning around 5 am for my run, there’s a pair of sunglasses propped on the bill of my baseball cap, as the sun will have just begun to spill over the top of the eastern ridgeline during the last mile, and it surely is intense. And sunset right now is just a skosh past 8:30 pm; the long days are fine and dandy with me, a just reward after hellish Vermont winter.
Last Saturday we treated ourselves and our guests to an outing much closer to my former Upper Valley stomping grounds, first for some antiquing in Quechee and then an afternoon meal (late lunch or early supper, take your pick) over in neighboring Woodstock at the Worthy Kitchen, a favorite Vermont eatery. I was tickled to stumble across a vintage mixing bowl I’ve been missing from my set since the same bowl was broken about a year ago, a little pricey but entirely worth it.
The Worthy Kitchen was our first dining out experience, mine and Chef David’s, since the start of the pandemic, but we found it fairly atypical still; aside from the reservation requirement, the Worthy Kitchen has imposed a 90-minute dining limit (strictly observed) on each party, and the staff insist diners mask up unless they’re eating, a rule we saw them enforce a couple of times. Seems to me COVID keeps on calling the shots, even in Vermont, where we can lay claim to a higher-than-average vax rate. Ninety minutes—that’s a generous enough amount of time, and really, when would we stay seated at a table longer than that? Knowing time could be called insinuates a sense of urgency upon the occasion just the same.
Elsewhere around the homestead. The herbs and vegetables are in the ground and in the containers on the back deck, the wildflower seed has been cast in the back garden and the little shoots have started poking their way up through the soil, and for the first time since we moved into our quaint New England house, we have sunflowers coming up that look for all the world like they might actually go this year. Exciting news, because critters have undermined every other effort to date; Van Goat is standing sentinel over our tiny garden this year, and so maybe he has given them pause, an honorable avocation for a small metal goat.
This is the delicious time of year when we start living a measurable part of every day, weather permitting, outdoors. It’s almost go-time, too, for the first travel we’ll have undertaken in two years. Long, hot, humid days, lazy dinners al fresco, familiar anthems on the radio, and endless stretches of highway where heat radiates upward and transforms the vanishing point into a puddly mirage. It is at long last time to stop merely surviving and to start thriving.