Mud Season and Transitions

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When I moved to Vermont from Ontario, Canada, in 2002, I had never heard of Mud Season.  A city girl who spent summers at cottages on Lake Erie, before this move I lived my life on city streets, paved city streets, where the only impediments to traffic flow were rush hour congestion, spring flooding, winter blizzards, and the occasional parade or street party.  I assumed my driving life on and around Stannard Mountain in Vermont’s Northeast King/Queendom would be much the same as it had been in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Windsor, and Hamilton, the Ontario cities of my former life.

We set up camp in the fall of 2002 and set about making a small cottage livable for the winter months.  As I settled deep in these northern woods and explored its network of dirt roads, I scoffed at the isolation friends warned me about.  After the bustle and noise of big-city life, I relished the peace of my new environment.  This beautiful, sparsely populated rural setting felt like  the ideal place to work on the novel I’d brought to Vermont to complete.

Far from feeling isolated, the long periods of silence and stillness nourished my writer’s soul.  As fall gave way to winter, I made friends with my splitting maul and took long solitary walks in a frozen landscape that was both beautiful and intimidating.  Barred owls, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and occasional visits from singing coyote packs thrilled me.  It was the summer cottage experience of my youth expanded to bless all the seasons of my adult life.  And then, winter shifted, warmed, prompted excitement about sugaring.  That first year I was enchanted by the perfume of maple sap boiling down into syrup that is the epicenter of spring work in these Green Mountains.  As I relished that sweet scent, I met Spring’s fiercest adversary: Mud Season.

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