Spring: just stinging hands, mud, and bugs

Gloom and rain outside today. A wet morning walk. Official Spring is imminent, which is nice, but in New England, it doesn’t always mean much. When I was a kid, high school baseball season began around this time of year, and we always had to start our practices in the gym, hitting tennis balls, because snow lingered. Once the snow melted, we still couldn’t play outside, because the ground was muddy. Games started in April, often still cold and windy, and I have painful memories of sitting huddled on the bench wrapped in jacket and gloves, waiting for my turn to bat, or shivering in the field wearing a heavy turtleneck under what in those days was a woolen uniform shirt. (In very cold weather, when you hit a baseball any way but perfectly, a wooden bat vibrates in such a way as to give your hands a nasty stinging sensation. We say the bat has bees in its handle, and we used to make the scrubs sit on them to try to keep them warm. Does this happen in cricket? Or is Britain too balmy?)

In northern New England, there’s still plenty of snow in the mountains, but by Challenge time, when Spring is reliably lovely in Connecticut, most of it will be gone, and the White and Green Mountains will have entered their worst time of the year—mud season. The Green Mountain Club does its best to keep walkers off the Long Trail during this period because of the damage boots can do to the soft and mucky treadway and nearby areas. Mud season overlaps with black fly season, which, to me, is essentially unendurable. Because of the combo of mud and bugs, it’s good to stay out of the New Hampshire mountains from snowmelt until late June. No problem this year, since I’ll be in Arizona in early June, after spending most of May enjoying the Edenic splendor of Spring in Scotland.

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