It is spring in the town of Pemberton. Snow has melted, the grass is turning green and trees are about to bud. The daylight hours are getting longer and people are shedding layers of winter wear.
It is a whole different story just a few miles north on the Pemberton Meadows Road. Every winter as you head up that road, the snow levels get deeper and deeper the farther up the valley you get. So while the calender says it is spring, we Upper Valley residents are still in the throes of winter.
This causes us to look for signs of Spring anywhere we can.
- Mud. On the farm this is an inevitable sign that the season is changing. As the frost comes out of the ground, the farm yard turns from a treacherous ice field to a mud bog that could be used for 4×4 rally training. This lasts anywhere from a week to a month and turns the entry way of the house into a true ‘mud room’.
- Swans. Most people see the Robin as a true sign that Spring is finally here. That is true but I have seen Robins around here in the middle of January so for me the real bird of spring is the swan. They return every March settling in the Pemberton Valley for a break on their long journey back north. According to one local farmer, he and his wife watched hundreds land in a near by field and could barely hear each other speak over the noise.
- Calves. Spring on the farm is calving time. Farmers keep watch over their herds with an extra careful eye as the cows get ready to calve. Checks are made many times a day and even during the night. It is truly amazing to see these animals calmly and quietly give birth. Then within minutes the calf is up on all four wobbly legs searching for milk.
- Bikes. A sure sign that spring is on it’s way up here are bike riders. Our road passes through one of the most beautiful valleys in the world and one of the best ways to enjoy it is on a bicycle. The first hardy souls that you see are dressed pretty warmly but as March marches on the layers come off. Soon the road is busy with all kinds of riders: those who commute, locals out for a bit of exercise, athletes training for Ironman and Sunday riders lollygagging their way up the road taking in the views.
5. Potato trucks. By March most of the seed potato farmers are in full shipping mode, opening their roothouse doors and sorting tons of seed potatoes. Truckloads of our precious local commodity start heading down the highway to destinations all over North America.
Spring is here. Our fields are still white and our yards are still mud. Before you know it we will be planting our gardens and complaining about the heat but until then I will welcome spring and listen to the trumpet of the swans as they glide on our pond.