Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Color of Spring

We’ve had a winter here in the northeast that just doesn’t want to let go. A few days of pleasant temps here, a couple of stretches of sun there, but overall it’s been a dreary, gray season that even now, well into April, is refusing to give up the ghost. I have some daffodils struggling up through the dirt and the neighbors’ monumental forsythia bank has a couple of yellow petals on it--

[didactic aside: did you know it’s pronounced for-SCYTHE-ee-ah? Because it was initially bred by a certain Mr. Forsythe. Next time you’re consulting with someone over your Zagat (zuh-GAT) Guide you can drop that tidbit.]

--but even today it’s gray and 37 degrees. And since the other morning I shifted to the outdoor shower for the season, I’m very aware of that 37 degrees. Yikes!

Years ago an old-timer who’s lived in this area his whole life told me that winter is not officially over until the snow is completely gone from the top of the mountain. Driving home from town just now I saw that there’s still a bit of a white blanket way, way up there. 

There is, however, one unmistakable sign of impending spring. Every year I repaint my decks and that is happening this weekend. 

My house was built one room at a time and has a Habitrail feel to it. From above, the footprint of the house looks like a random placement of rectangles and squares. Surrounding and connecting that footprint are decks and porches--again, in random sizes and shapes--that go up and down two or three steps from section to section. It’s really lovely, especially now that most of the deck space is enclosed by screen porches.

My house is stained barn red and the decks are painted a shade of green called “False Cypress.” That, naturally, raises the question, what is “True Cypress.” That remains TBD. I do know that the cypress they call false is a light gray/green that reminds me of the ocean. Some ocean somewhere, anyway. Because my house is surrounded by trees (I don’t even own a lawn mower) and the ground is rough and rocky, whenever I’m outside, I’m on one of the decks or porches. I’ve always thought it feels like the house is an island afloat in a sea of decks. Over the course of the day I drift around the house to either flee or chase the heat. 

Between the pollen and insects and, later, falling leaves, the floor gets pretty cruddy by the end of the summer, so each spring this “sea” is refreshed with a new coat of paint. Removing all the rugs and furniture and flower pots and objet and whatever detritus has accumulated over the winter takes a day unto itself. Likewise with the painting. I’ve got about 1200 square feet of decks and porches and the perimeter has to be painted first with a brush before rolling the paint on the bulk of it. It’s time consuming and lower back breaking.

Still, when it’s completed it’s worth the trouble. And besides, it means spring is here! 

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