The Not-So-White Mountains

Waiting for spring to come to the Valley is like waiting for an old percolator coffee pot to deliver the goods.

By Jake Jacobson


Anyone who tells you that spring is their favorite season in the Mt. Washington Valley has definitely never truly experienced spring in the Mt. Washington Valley. Either that or they’re full of manure … or something else that affects their long-term memory.

Waiting for spring to come to the Valley is like waiting for an old percolator coffee pot to deliver the goods. It always takes longer than you think, you’d just as soon stay in bed until it’s done, and once it arrives it’s much muddier and not nearly as sweet as you imagined. Did someone say mud? We’ve got a season named after mud. Insert sucking sound here <____.>

Like snow, we measure it in feet. And speaking of feet, you’d better take care of yours. While heads are turned in the city by ladies sporting fun spring heels, men here in the Valley are attracted to a woman with the sense to sport a decent pair of muck boots and a tow strap behind the seat of her pickup. I’m pretty sure, at one time or another, we’ve all tried to rescue a bogged down toddler out of burping suckhole only to come out of it with the kid, one sock, and a trip to town to buy yet ANOTHER pair of boots.

It’s been a long winter, and although we got that teasing thaw back in February, the possibility of another foot on April Fool’s Day always looms on the horizon. But when the snow finally recedes to show what goodies it’s been hiding all winter, dogs are surprised to find forgotten tennis balls left out by their owners and owners find all sorts “surprises” left by their dogs. And hopefully the rake. You know the rake. The rake that your teenager told you he put in the shed before that late October snowstorm? Well there it is on the lawn—and good thing, too, because man is there some raking to do.

Over ambitious gardeners rake frantically at lingering snowbanks hoping to uncover the perennial garden that the plow guy has once again mulched with driveway gravel. Patience wears thin because there’s so much planting to be done, all thanks to that one overzealous gloomy winter evening spent unattended with a seed catalog. In the meantime, they’ll have to settle for a few six-packs of pansies before daring to plant the rest.

But if we’re being honest with ourselves, next year we could just take that seed money and go to Hannaford’s and buy way too much zucchini and all the misshapen ugly tomatoes they have. Suffice to say that gardening in the Valley is an exercise in equal parts meditation, optimism, and delusion. “Yes honey, we are STILL in Zone 5!”

As soon as the temperature hits 50 degrees, every middle schooler at the bus stop is dressed like they’re waiting for the shuttle at Disney or appearing in Under Armor’s summer catalog. I have to admit, they sure look cool … like hypothermic cool, complete with blue lips and shivering.

They’ll be the ones in the muddy sneakers, with only one sock.

Baseball practice will be held in the high school parking lot today, tennis will be in the gym.

Until the magic happens: 60, 70, 75 degrees? Buds opening! Grass greening! Suddenly the Valley is awash in color and warmth and all of its critters rejoice: Glory, Glory, Hallelu…

Wait … was that a black fly?

I’ll be inside.