Monday, March 09, 2009

False Spring

Last week ended with four days of increasing warmth. Even a storm that brought a rind of snow to parts of the area ended in a warm day. The sun is strong now. Daylight Saving Time adds to the illusion that winter is over.

Now I look out at steady snow falling from a quintessentially wintry mat of light gray clouds. The artificially late sunset makes wintry conditions look out of place, but this really is their place. March is a winter month in northern New England. Forget the Spring Equinox. We chuckle indulgently at the notion, except for the ones who are laughing maniacally because winter has finally crushed their psyche.

I know I should start going over the bikes for the first fixed-gear forays when the glacier finally relaxes its grip for good. I'm just still wrapped up in the endgame of our final season in the winter shop, so on my days off I tend to nap a lot in between chores necessary to prepare for the next work week. It's all kind of drifty and timeless. Endless winter rules the land outside. I hop out for quick back-country jaunts on the convenient mountainside out the back door. Yes, I know how lucky I am. I can pull an hour of short runs after a few minutes trudging up and across the logging cuts and groves of hardwood and evergreen, and still get the laundry done, firewood split and gear assembled for the following week.

Spring tends to be late and short here. Riding begins well before things look lush and pretty. Change seems like it will never come. Then it arrives abruptly. We pack the seasonal shop in a day. Refugees fleeing an onrushing army got nothing on us. The commute will cease to be an hour of incarceration in a motor vehicle at either end of a long day and become an hour of cycling at either end of the break between rides, during which I happen to work.

With the end of our seasonal operation every winter I will once again be able to poach the occasional bike commute in winters to come. That's just one of many things I'm looking forward to.

This week I may have to go in a day early. Our skeleton crew of two is down to one. Some hideous respiratory plague has been hammering the inmates at Jackson Ski Touring. It even put one of them in the hospital with pneumonia. Others are dragged out and beaten down pretty far, too. Several of them run grueling schedules. The visiting public comes in coughing, sneezing and dripping. The staff who serves them is trapped in the building in clouds of their infectious airborne droplets. Some have to spend more time indoors than out. The ones who work outdoors still have to come in some time. It isn't always a festering germ pit. But it certainly can be.

Maybe I'll go dust off some bikes.

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