Ornamental witch hazel

This time last year, we had budding daffodils and flowering forsythias. This year, apart from some feeble attempts at crocuses and some scattered snowdrops, it’s been too cold for flowers, the earth lying brown and bare beneath a sun that barely warms the air above freezing.

Witch hazel and sky

It isn’t strange that spring has been slow to arrive in New England this year, considering how fierce a winter we’ve had. What’s strange is how patient I’ve been in awaiting spring’s arrival. Yes, I’m eagerly awaiting warm, sunny days–sandal season–when we can reliably leave our windows open, but I haven’t been too disheartened by a week of sunny but cold days that call for shoes, socks, a winter jacket, and ballcap. After so many months of slipping down sidewalks slabbed with ice and hard-packed snow, it’s a simple luxury to walk unimpeded, shoes feeling carefree after an entire season of hiking boots. After so many months of mapping my dog-walks according to a detailed knowledge of which neighborhood sidewalks were shoveled, it feels freeing to feel the bare, solid earth underfoot.

Reggie doesn’t mind the cold–he walks, after all, in a fur coat. But navigating icy steps, streets, and sidewalks is difficult on old, arthritic bones, so it’s a relief simply to walk without slipping. Warm weather will come in due time, and with it will come daffodils and forsythias. In the meantime, it’s a simple luxury not to have to watch for ice at every step.