Last Sunday, the day after Allen’s memorial, the sun came out and the temperatures rose. For the first time in months I did not have to dig out a drift over the back fence of the barn paddock. Since then the snowpack has ebbed and shrunk — sometimes by a foot overnight! — until now there are only dirty rags of snow in corners of brown, drowned-looking fields, and in the woods. The robins arrived at the farm four days after they first showed up at school. I stopped wearing gloves, and switched my wool hat for a baseball cap. Yesterday it was 18° at morning chores and 66° by evening. The driveway is glistening and rutted with spring mud. Soon buds will flush on the bare trees and the grass will begin to turn green.
But I have felt exhausted and sad and have watched these bright new beginnings with something like bitterness. For months on the telephone Allen would tell me he couldn’t wait for spring. Now spring is here — one week too late — and he isn’t. I know from other losses that this feeling of angry disbelief will ease. But for now everywhere I look there is sadness and a sense of loss. We worked on every inch of this farm together.
Yesterday morning the first tree swallows arrived, scouting for homes. I was late for work but I made myself stop and take five minutes to clean out the six bluebird boxes that are used by both bluebirds and swallows. In one I found a clutch of bluebird eggs that mysteriously failed last summer.
Now all six boxes are ready for new occupants. As I climbed back into my truck I heard Allen say in my mind, “Good girl.”
The first insects were hatched and buzzing by evening chores.