I woke this morning to a world covered with white snow, but by midday, much of the new snow had melted. And even the last stubborn snow banks along the driveway are shrinking fast.
Our house is on a hill and in the winter, the front yard becomes a snow park. The teenagers shovel snow into huge piles, creating jumps so that they can practice their snowboarding tricks. (This explains why the barberry bushes in the front of the house always look sort of odd-shaped and crushed.) The driveway, with solid ice on the bottom and snow banks along the sides, functions as a toboggan run. Two floodlights lashed to pine trees with rope, much the way pirates might be lashed to the mast of a sailing ship, completes the park. On a winter night, the light illuminates falling snow and the whole scene looks quite pretty.
In the harsh light of spring, however, with snow melting fast, the yard looks like the kind of place you might go to to buy an old car part. Everything the kids used to augment the piles of snow - warped boards, some plastic crates, an old ice chest, logs taken from the woodpile, an entire picnic table turned sideways - has reappeared. Orange extension cords snake across the lawn, which is littered with plastic toboggans in faded colours. Some old golf clubs are scattered about as well, although I have yet to figure out just what the kids were doing with those golf clubs.
When the snow melts this time of year, we discover things we've been missing since December - a couple of snow shovels, for instance. I always tell the kids to lean the shovels against the house instead of leaving them in snow banks, where they can fall and be lost, but no one listens. I've been wondering what that weird lump in the backyard is, and now I realize that it's our Christmas tree. The kids must have been using it as part of some kind of fort.
As I walk around with the kids, picking up trash on the re-emerging ground, I am reminded of all the events of the winter. Here is a song sheet from our Christmas carolling party. One of our singers must have dropped it near the driveway. Here is a movie stub from a Saturday date night. This juice box must have fallen from the car when Boy in Black was getting his snowboard out one Sunday. The wood pile is almost gone, depleted from the many cozy evenings by the fire.
In the backyard, pieces of oddly folded paper puzzle me until I recall the night the kids sent paper airplanes out the boys' bedroom window. Lots of decaying fruit lies along the far edge of the yard near the woods. The boys have this big sling shot for shooting snowballs, and they decided one night that it would be fun to go through the compost pile and fling stuff like grapefruit rinds.
I find a few broken CDs as well. My kids and extras like to collect the promotional CDs that AOL sends to every household. Then they have these big battles, whipping the CDs like frisbees. Well, the way you would throw a frisbee if you were if you were attacking someone with it. And in the vegetable garden, I see some ashes and scorch marks. That's where the kids were experimenting with fire. My rule about playing with fire is that it's okay as long as there is at least a foot of snow on the roof.
We clean up the yard by piling everything we can into the garage. The garage is, of course, a complete mess because my way of cleaning the house all winter long is to throw everything into the garage. I close the garage door, leaving that project for another day. I walk around the house, looking longingly at gardens still edged with snow. I am already thinking about May, when the soil will finally get warm and I can spend my daylight hours gardening, my hands in the earth.