Connecticut in May, 2011
Connecticut is spectacular in May. Nature bursts forth in an explosion of color in high contrast to dormant color-less winter. As spring arrives, hills blanketed in trees turn vibrant green in a matter of days, right before your eyes. The bright blue sky, interrupted by billowing clouds, sparkles. Mounds of flowering white dogwoods displace the mounds of cold white snow, almost impossible to imagine now. Plum and cherry trees and forsythia bushes erupt in fresh pinks, reds and yellows. Gardens team with tulips and lilies in every hue.
Connecticut weather is oh so benign in May, so mild. People emerge with caution from the experience of winter. They shake off the shock of it, and still a little stunned, realize that it is finally over; it is safe to walk outside now. This year they speak of it with new terms never heard here before, “ice dams”and “roof rakes”. The talk recounts the storms of 2011: the mountains of snow, the cycle of melting and freezing that created thick, heavy layers of ice–ice that crushed barns and buckled buildings like tin cans, trapping and sometimes killing the inhabitants, horses and livestock. There are descriptions of enormous hanging ice-cycles. Then the floods when ice dams formed on roofs, trapping melting water and forcing it inside homes, impossible to stop; and the roads and bridges that disappeared under torrents of water when melting began in earnest.
Connecticut in May is wonderfully alive. The sight of baby squirrels and chipmunks flitting everywhere, and the chirping of birds busy building nests belie the worst winter in recent memory. Residents here braved the storms with little fanfare or recognition for the effort required to persevere. Just heads down work day after day plowing roads, shoveling paths and picking at ice like chain gangs in a white, high-walled prison. When the snow melted, the plowing switched to bailing water, with no questions asked, in a simple matter of survival.
Connecticut in May is bright with promise. Like new parents, the agony of the process of winter is forgotten by the citizens as their blossoming world makes demands. Gardens need prepping and planting. It needs to be done right now because a few weeks delayed might mean missing the best of the growing season. Mangled useless gutters need replacements. Leaking roofs marred by ice and rakes need repairs. Trees broken by the weight of ice or pushed over by well-meaning plowers need clearing. Everyone is hard at it. People of Connecticut are hardy and strong. They take no rest, nor is any desired. They know with certainty summer will come soon, and it is worth working and waiting for.
Connecticut in May is the breath of spring to be taken in deeply. The cycle will repeat, perhaps less viciously. The rain will come, maybe tomorrow. But for now, people savor every luscious moment and store it in memory to be used as protective insulation against the next killing winter. It is a life-saving gift. Or maybe it is the just reward for a job well done by a devoted loyal populous. In either case, thank God for May.