Half way house

Print More

(HOST) Spring is an in-between time, a brief interval between winter and summer, especially in Northern New England. It’s a quality that recently inspired commentator Edith Hunter to contemplate the dilemma of being caught between competing interests.

(HUNTER) Just beyond the bend of winter
When you hear the robins sing;
Just before you get to summer
Is the half-way house of spring.

There you see the grass grow greener
Than it was the day before;
Here you watch the leaves and blossoms
Open out a little more.

Oh! how often we would linger
When we hear the robins sing,
Just around the bend of winter
In the half-way house of spring.


When the very short sugaring season came to an end, I carried the chair that I keep in the sugarhouse out to the edge of the pond and set it up. On these “half-way house to spring” days, it is a treat to sit there, and sense the world coming awake.

I am not alone by the pond. The wood frogs are quacking, and the peepers are peeping. A redwing blackbird is telling me to “keep-away, keep away.” A phoebe is perched on a limb of the nearby lichen-covered Rhode Island Greening apple tree. She, or he, is singing a staccato “pheebee, pheebee”, with tail twitching nervously.

As a special treat, a wood duck flies up from under the willows on the far side of the pond. I know it is a male by his handsome colors. He does not return as long as I remain. The surface of the pond glitters in the April sun.

In a few weeks, daisies and buttercups, and Japanese iris will appear in the meadow on this side of the pond. Later they will be joined by masses of lupin that have seeded themslves from Aunt Mary’s garden.

It is a lovely spot.

And then I think of the newspaper I read this morning. On the front page there was a large photo of a Vermont National Guardsman, his wife and three smiling children. He is soon to leave for Iraq. I think of the Iraqi who also has a wife and lovely children. Will they meet as friends or enemies?

In that same newspaper I read of a recently released prisoner who, having served his time, was greeted, not with forgiveness as he returns to society, but by public labeling. Another front-page story dedicated several columns to whether a prisoner found guilty should be given a life sentence or the death penalty. Another story reported the percentage of Vermont children living in poverty.

And then I look at the peaceful pond.

Oh, I know that under the placid surface, the dragon fly nymph will soon be devouring the may fly nymph, the giant water bug will be eating the tadpoles, and the great blue heron may swing down and capture a frog.

It is a challenge to know how to be sensitive and respond to these very different worlds that we inhabit simultaneously.

Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center.

Comments are closed.