10 notes about this in-between time of year

The greening grass is a pretty good indicator we may be out of the snowy woods of winter — finally. Snow in late April or early May is not unusual in Maine, but I am feeling kind of safe at this point to declare winter is done.

It’s still an odd time of year. Although technically it’s spring, it’s really a tween kind of time. Melting snow piles revealed gouged lawns and fallen branches. It’s not quite time to mow, but it will be very soon, which means I don’t have much time to clean up the lawn from winter’s debris and get the mowers ready.

I really need to sort through this pile and make a trip to the town landfill.

The mailbox that the state plow clipped during the winter, chipping off a piece big enough to let water seep in and wind catch the door and strew my mail around my yard, has been replaced. (Thank you, Mom and Dad.)

The earth is warming slowly, and Mom has ordered the vegetable seed packets we share. My little garden patch is just waiting for its next phase.

This pile of recyclable papers and plastic has gotten out of hand.

Overall, I am looking ahead to a more relaxed summer than I had last year. Last summer, our family was getting ready for my youngest daughter’s wedding, on the heels of her graduation from college and her adult adoption. I didn’t have much time at camp, and no time to even think about whether I wanted to take the boat with me.

So this summer, I hope to have some real “down time” to enjoy a little fishing and boating and playing in the lake — which means I need to get ready for camping too.

It’s a time of evaluation and waiting. A time of assessing winter’s damage and adding to summer’s to-do list. A time of figuring out what’s next.

So in the spirit of “tween-ness,” here are my observations thus far about spring:

  1. I will need to buy several new reflectors on a stick for next fall. Many of my longtime driveway markers met with their demise when they couldn’t jump out of the way of the snowplow. Some of them were getting rather brittle anyway.
  2. There are several places on the lawn next to the driveway that need to be smoothed out before I try to mow. The snowplow truck, fuel delivery trucks, and my own vehicles managed to cause deep ruts in the lawns abutting the driveway.
  3. Having been “stung” once or twice by winter’s unyielding grip after a little taste of spring, plants seem to be coming up more cautiously and taking their time to expand and bloom. My forsythia put out just a few scattered blossoms. Although it’s long past time for pussywillows, it’s too early for apple blossoms and lilac blooms. I do love the yard when the lilacs and my several apple trees all are in bloom at once.
  4. The resident bears that den in the woods behind the house also seemed to be slow to emerge, but finally they are out and it is time to take the bird feeders in. Food is not easy to find in the tween season, and they are ravenous for easy meals. Best not to tempt them.
  5. I didn’t see as many turkeys this year during mating season. I’m not sure what that means. Perhaps less turkey poop in the woods behind the house and a more pleasant walk. We’ll see.
  6. My grandfather always said the hummingbirds returned to Maine by April 19. I have dutifully put out a couple hummingbird feeders filled with sweet liquid, but have yet to see any of my quick moving guests. The feeder has not been plagued by ants yet either. Soon, I’m thinking.
  7. The medium-sized kids’ wading pool that my four Brittany dogs use to cool off during warm weather has had a bad winter. It went into winter with a couple small gashes, but now is in unusable condition. Time to purchase them a new one in anticipation of hot summer days. And speaking of the dogs, I swear they hauled half of their toys out into their fenced area. I will need to pick up toys, bones, plastic bottles and pieces of wood they have carted out there before I can mow.
  8. The garage where I keep vehicles is a mess. Recyclable papers, boxes and plastic, returnable bottles, and pieces of this and that forming little stacks of clutter beckon me to throw open both doors wide and do a thorough sorting and cleaning. Soon I will be down to one vehicle and I want to have space to store my lawnmowers in that garage too.
  9. The little stack of debris headed for the landfill and the fallen and trimmed branches from various trees on my property all piled together near the corner of the workshop need to be sorted and dealt with appropriately. It’s becoming unsightly.
  10. My son-in-law found me a tire rim late last fall to be used as a fire pit. I want to choose a spot for it, and set it up so that I might enjoy evenings of fires beneath the stars, burning some of the fallen branch debris safely within its metal walls, and contemplating life’s mysteries.

The dogs’ pool has to be replaced this year.

I am in such a different place this spring than even the last one. A more stable place. A place I feel I can use for a staging area for my next chapters in life. I feel more comfortable with my grief, like I am learning to truly live with it.

I still have times when my sadness over my husband Jim’s death overwhelms me, but I bounce back to myself more quickly.

And the kinds of things I have on my immediate to-do list have less to do with grief and much more to do with daily life. The mess I need to sort through in the garage is my own. I have traded Jim’s pickup truck for a mid-sized SUV, and soon will sell my van too. I will be a one-person, one-vehicle household, with a vehicle that fits my current needs.

There are subtle changes in my attitude too — about family and friends and participating in life rather than observing it from afar.

One thing is becoming quite clear. I may be emerging from my own “tween time” and my life and I are beginning to fit each other.


Julie Harris

About Julie Harris

As a longtime employee of Bangor Daily News, I have served many roles over the years, but I now have a dream job as Community Editor. I live in Hermon with my four Brittany dogs: Sassy, Bullet, Thistle and Quincy, who keep me busy in various dog sports. I was widowed at age 51 when my husband, Jim, died of pancreatic cancer.