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Faith in Vermont: April Showers

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Posted on April 10, 2018 | Blog Category:
By Faith Gong



During the last days of March, we fell asleep to the sound of rain on the roof for the first time in a very long time. I awoke in the morning to the sound of morning doves calling, filling a months-long silence.

It felt like the release of a long-awaited promise: that maybe spring would, indeed, come again. The week before, my daughters – who had wished for the coming of winter snow back in autumn – went outside with shovels and attempted to help spring along by clearing the snow off of our lawn. 

And now, the snow was melting, all on its own, revealing the first shoots of the bulbs I’d planted back in the fall starting to poke through the thawing ground. 

But the rain, which sounded so soothing on our roof, also carried the threat of impending danger – or, at the very least – the threat of inconvenience. 

Our yard, which has poor drainage in the best of circumstances, gave up even trying to be anything other than a swamp. Between the melting snow, the rain, and our six ducks – who will take any puddle and use their flippers and bills to dig it into a pond – our front lawn and gardens were submerged under several inches of water. 

The potholes on our driveway became apocalyptic, and we watched nervously as the spot where the driveway had washed away in an earlier thaw – a situation we’d patched with two-by-fours, PVC pipes, and gravel – started to look increasingly trench-like as a steady flood of water gushed through the pipes. 

The streams around our house ran swollen with muddy water. Whenever my daughters went down to the creek and beaver pond on the border of our property, they came home soaked. I poured cups of water out of their rain boots and stuffed the boots with newspaper, readying them to repeat it all the next day. The rain boots stood in our mudroom, alongside the muddy dog paw prints that are my Sisyphean task throughout mud season. 

Even the reappearance of wildlife wasn’t free of ominous undertones. In the course of two days, we found a dead junco attached to the fence surrounding our poultry yard (presumably electrocuted through some error of the electric fencing), and a headless rabbit lying on our driveway. If this were Ancient Rome, I’d be reading all sorts of bad omens into this. 

It was also Easter Week, so it shouldn’t have surprised me that death is required for any resurrection. Perhaps another way of putting it is that some pain is always a part of any transition.

That same week, our girls had a friend over. This friend is a 12-year-old girl, one of those special friends who gets along equally with all four of my daughters. When she enters the boisterous mix of our household, it’s like everyone gets a new oldest sister for a couple of hours.

As I drove the five girls through town, we started talking about one of our favorite book series: Jeanne Birdsall’s four Penderwicks books, which tell the coming-of-age story of four sisters. A fifth book is being released in May, and our 12-year-old friend had read an advance copy. Everyone was eager to hear her review.

Her review was not positive. In this new book, nine years have elapsed: The Penderwick sisters are all adults – and one of them is getting married. 

“It’s just wrong,” our adolescent friend moaned.

But, as my daughters pressed her for details about the book, it was hard to discern exactly what was wrong. 

“That doesn’t sound so bad,” my ten-year-old commented.

“But they’re all grown up. It’s just wrong!” our friend repeated. 

I may understand what she’s feeling as she reads this book – and why my own daughters, who are nearing-but-not-quite-at adolescence, can’t relate.

At twelve, our friend is facing impending adulthood at what must seem like a breakneck pace: In a mere five years, she will graduate high school and be an official grown-up.

I am several decades removed from that place, but I remember clearly sitting on my childhood bed in Northern Virginia, staring across the room at my bulletin board filled with ticket stubs and friends’ school pictures and award ribbons, and feeling terrified of growing up. Time was galloping, forcing me up and out into the world, and I didn’t want to go. 

Growing up is traumatic enough when it’s happening to you; having to witness book characters whom you met and loved in your preadolescent days become grown-ups can just feel…wrong.

Time will pass, spring will come, and nothing we do can stop it. The observation that change is hard is certainly nothing new. 

Still, it seems, we need to keep reminding ourselves that one day we will step outside into the wide world – a world that is full of death and flooding and potholes, true – but when we feel the spring sunshine on our faces, it is beautiful. 

 

Faith Gong has worked as an elementary school teacher, a freelance photographer, and a nonprofit manager. She lives in Middlebury with her husband, four daughters, assorted chickens and ducks, and one anxiety-prone labradoodle. In her "free time," she writes for her blog, The Pickle Patch.

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