The Busy Season

It’s the last of the wood fire season. The wood stove season. The months—middle of October, November, December, January, February, March to the middle of April—when we warm our downstairs with the wood stove. Except it is the middle of May.

By the time this sees print, to tempt fate, temperatures could zoom in to the 70s. But such is not the case. I sit and write and have, yet again, used paper bags and paper towel rolls to light up the remaining logs that have been drying down here since Halloween.

It’s not bad, if not drowse-inducing. I wait for rainy days to write, usually, especially in the spring when there is so much to do. Cottages need cleaning. Boats need washing. Lawns need a first mow. Gardens must be cleaned out. The final brush burn must occur before the official end of burning season (May 1).

The outside shower’s fallen tiles will be reaffixed, and the whole inside power-washed. Likewise, the deck should be freshened up. Come to think of it, spring really is just four weeks of power washing, with a buffer of month on either side.

I have yet to don my waders for the walk out to the mooring to check how much winter ice moved it. Although we really didn’t have any ice on the Oyster Pond, as is often the case. Much like our total snow accumulation came to Did-the-Plows-Even-Come-Down-the-Road-Once levels.

The season of the sound of the chainsaw and the leaf blower has given way to the season of the sound of the lawn mower. Anyone who works outside hears this while sanding peeling windowsills and slapping on primer.

On the beaches, which continue to tatter to the detriment of the common pedestrian, the shoreline itself is as much a novelty as that which is found washed upon it. The best treasures have most likely picked up by the hardiest souls in March and April. There will be few buckets or driftwood branches. But come May, a regular nor’easter will churn up treasures from the sea.

But that is a diversion. A break from the work of the busy season. There is so much to do. Plant the sunflowers. Pull the thornless blackberry with the rust on the leaves and dispose of it properly. Assemble that outdoor sectional couch and ditch those 20-year-old plastic chairs before they disintegrate under a hapless summer cookout guest.

Rebuild the fire pit. Prune the pear trees, which should have been done last fall. Blow out the leaves around the now empty outside wood pile. Find a decent hammock, but first clean out all the dog toys from the pine needles because we don’t need to find more with the mower like last time. And what the hell is this in the freezer?

I understand seasonality in other parts of the country. Some places never even get a winter. As my arthritis has progressed, I have certainly begun to appreciate the value of these places. Other places, with distinct transitions between spring/summer/fall/winter, remind me of living in Germany:

Yesterday was summer and we were in shorts. Today is fall and we are in a light jacket.

There is little gradation like here. We are proceed so slowly in any direction that by the time we get there, things have already begun to progress otherwise. It certainly creates a sense of impermanence. In minds and souls of those who choose to live here year-round at least, it leads to a feeling that “This too shall pass.”

With the tacit addendum, “as will I.”

That does speak to the divide here in this coastal community, and its constant state of social schizophrenic. Those who come here at its zenith, finding the same here, and going to great expense to be sure to have the exact same experience, year after year. I understand. I, too, have been to places that I have relaxed in and adored, and when I go back, I don’t want that thing I have worked and saved for.

Which is a silly expectation, given that, first and foremost the experiencer has themselves changed in the intervening time. If you don’t believe me, just have your 25th high school reunion go to that tire swing over the water like you used to.

Those who work to get all in order for the summer, work and watch. We see more. From the yard, from the shore, we see the broad strokes. We look forward to the excitement and, yes, the money that will tide us through January and February until tax refunds come in. June and July are our payoff in many ways.

It is time now, however, to keep our heads down and remain busy.