It’s been 75 degrees in the Hudson Valley these past three days–a temperature that seemed an impossible fantasy Here just a few short weeks ago. The dazzling weather caused quite a commotion around town–the sidewalks of Main Street were teeming with dog-walkers and brunch-ers and antique-seekers. The hiking trails were packed with spandex covered hipsters from the city toting water bottles and maps downloaded to iPhones. Even our local Home Depot–where I made a quick stop early Sunday morning to gather supplies for the yard work Ray & I had decided to do–was a beehive of activity.
A 75 degrees weekend in April is an uncommon phenomenon in the northeast no matter its timing, but this year, after enduring three months of well-below-average temperatures and snow piles that hung around until just last week, we, the people who braved the cold weather together, were astonished by its charms. Unsteadily we opened our doors and windows to the sun and the warm breezes. Cautiously we caught one another’s eyes as we went about our business at the markets and banks. “Can you believe this?” our expressions seemed to whisper to one another, with a not-small trace of skepticism mixed with awe.
The weather and, thus, the celebratory atmosphere that had taken over our village had descended quite suddenly and folks were dressed in all manner of attire–as if roused from their beds by a temperate alarm (or some kind of siren call). They were unsure about what to wear. Some threw caution to the wind and put on the wrinkled sundresses and crumpled shorts they must have pulled out of the storage bins under their beds and from their basements just that morning. Others, perhaps the more cynical of us, were dressed in clothing intended for the much cooler temperatures of just a week ago: jeans and boots and leather jackets and hats–prophylactics we had been conditioned to layering on to ward off the recently-exited cold.
The garden center at Home Depot is now blissfully free of snow-blowers and rock salt. In their places, shelves are stocked with mulch and fertilizer and rows of deep purple pansies sprouting from black plastic cups. Shoppers were giddy as they bought lawn seed and rakes. The labor involved in getting ready for the coming summer is a joyful jamboree, unlike the daunting and more serious task of preparations one makes in the fall. I picked up a new nozzle for our hose–our old metal one had split down the side during a freezing-bout in February–and a can of teak oil so we could gussy up our gazebo furniture. As Ray and I wiped and brushed and rubbed the chairs to a glossy shine we make plans for summer picnics and romantic dinners on the river’s edge.
As with all things, good or bad, this weather is not going to last. The forecast for the coming week is for the temperature to moderate. By Wednesday night we’ll even have to watch for a frost. This day, however, is a gift so I’m ending with a poem–I’ve been meaning to share more poetry this month–and here’s one that seems fitting:
By William Shakespeare
From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him.
Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odour and in hue,
Could make me any summer’s story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew:
Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight
Drawn after you, – you pattern of all those.
Yet seem’d it winter still, and, you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.