I can say with absolute certainty that I’ve never appreciated springtime more than this moment. In this blog I’ve written about snow melting and ice thawing, and the world coming back to life. But I found out the hard way that in Vermont, spring is slow and sweet. There’s a lot of mud, rain, even a little surprise snow. Things tend to stay brown a long time – it’s late April and tree branches are still bare. But today I worked on my laptop all day in the sun, listening to birds, watching insects, marveling at the suddenly-overnight green yard, and the tiny sounds of celebration and life quickening around every bend – the high river rushing, the spring peepers’ cheery chorus, the road’s silent lack of ski season traffic.
Where I grew up, spring was always an awkward blip between winter and summer, sometimes hard to discern amidst the late snowstorms and early heat waves. The blossoms’ beauty was soon forgotten beneath the onslaught of mosquitos and beachgoers on spring break. But here there can be no mistaking the vernal season after the white shackles of winter fall away. Every leaf that emerges from the dead pine needles is a beautiful miracle to cherish. Vermont instills in its denizens a unique reverenace for nature. Whether it’s sugaring season or hunting season, this state teaches you to seize the moment, to get up and go. Nature’s gifts are fleeting and reward only those who have the tenacity to pursue them, and the strength and patience to await them.
Speaking of slow journeys, I finished my mandatory hunter education course over Easter weekend. The term “flying colors” comes to mind because not only did I get every question right on the exam, I also exploded three clay pigeons with a shotgun during our field day: an unexpected and empowering feat. I did better with the rifle and handgun than I thought I would, too, and even started to get the hang of shooting with both eyes open (I shoot left-handed, but I’m right-eye dominant). Though I’m running out of time to prepare for my first hunt and spring turkey season, I can’t help but let my confidence show and feel pride in my accomplishments. I’ve earned it.
I’ll get my combination license (the brook trout beckon!) and the rest of my gear, and hopefully my first bird. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but I’m already dreaming of the smoked spruce salt and juniper berries and wild greens I want to serve with my wild turkey. After all, this is a food blog, and I’m taking up hunting to connect with my food. But I already know from all I’ve learned that this experience will be more powerful than I can even imagine. In the meantime, there are turkey loads to try, gear to be bought, locations to be scouted, and calls to be mastered. Separate from my food interests, this is shaping up to be a weirdly wonderful and expensive new hobby!
I’ll be sure to tune back in when the trees are in bloom and hopefully, the morels and turkeys stick their wrinkled necks out of the woods.