• Prepare like spring is about to spring
    April 28,2013
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    Weíre champing at the bit. There are signs of spring everywhere. Or are there? For every glimpse of T-shirts-and-sandals weather, there is a wind chill that delivers a stark reminder that it is, after all, spring in Vermont.

    Itís time to do something about this. Though some of us are fully engaged in the outdoors life, others are hesitant to set forth. Itís time to spring into action. May I make a few suggestions?



    INDOORS

    - Sort through any equipment we might use for spring and summer recreation and/or sports. Be sure that everything is tuned up, organized and ready to grab on a minuteís notice (as that is all we might get for a warm sunny day.)

    - If we are bag people, pack a bag for each sport to avoid arriving at a destination only to find that a helmet is at home or running shoes are in the other car. While at it, pack an energy bar and an empty water bottle, a reminder that both are needed. (Then donít forget to fill the bottle when the time comes.)

    - If we have not done so already, plan upcoming events. Alone or with our family or training partner, mark a calendar through September noting any events, games, competitions, day trips or vacations we want to do. Identify at least one goal: climb Camelís Hump, go to a different state park, take a Stand-Up-Paddling lesson or enter a fund-raising walk, run, bike or paddle.

    - Next, plan steps to reach that goal. Work backwards from the date and structure progressive training that will take us to the start fully prepared and confident of success. The ability to achieve a goal doesnít just happen. It takes planning and, yes, work.



    OUTDOORS

    - Get outside. We can do so with the certainty that warmer weather will surely come our way. In fact, in the near future we will probably be complaining about the heat and Iíll be writing a piece about how to deal with all things summer. Such is human nature. But for now, simply get out there and go through the motions. Please note that I speak to those of us who long for more temperate days and tend to avoid anything less. We folks live in Vermont for a plethora of valid reasons and would have it no other way. Yet, we do enjoy Vermontís unique summer season.

    - Dress for reality. Running shorts are beckoning and the winter coats may be packed away, but the interim we call spring might need attire appropriate to reality.

    Let me give you an example. I work with a large, enthusiastic cycling community. Our weekly rides began this week at 5:30 p.m. The weather was not conducive to skinny bike shorts, fingerless gloves and vented helmets. We rode anyway. Some layered tights or leg warmers over shorts while donning winter ski jackets over cycling jerseys and even pulled up hoods when necessary. It worked. No one complained and we had a great time. Sometimes all it takes is a little push that gets the inertia into motion.

    - Take pleasure in the season. Parents know that the most personal and dramatic way to mark the passage of time is to watch their children grow. Outdoor enthusiasts might feel the same about the journey from winter into spring. Every day there is an example of new birth, of renewal, or return. When we notice the details, all the tell-tale signs, the perfect evidence of the rhythms of nature that surround us, we see the indisputable signs of change. Pause to observe.

    Building or remodeling a home provides an apt example. For the one who leaves for work early in the morning and arrives later in the evening, each entry into the home in which others have been working is a small miracle. Suddenly there are walls, or the walls are a different color, or there is a bathroom where before it was a closet or there is a new slate floor or the beginnings of a new deck. Each day brings its own proof of progress, of change.

    So, too, and perhaps even more, are the verifiable facts of the season springing to life. Birds return and their song is heard. Though the turkeys are smart enough to take cover during hunting season (or so it seems looking out my back door), the deer are safely exploring farm fields that will soon tempt them (to the dismay of the farmer.) Tinges of red and green change hue in every light as leaf growth evolves. (A favorite for many is the contrast of the new spring green against the dark of spruce and pine.)

    Less romantic but certainly more functionally important is the passage of the frost from the ground and the drying up of mud. It all happens, and it happens daily if not hourly.

    Then, too, there is that day among days that makes us glad to be alive and living in Vermont. The sun shines, the air is clear, the remaining mountain snow sparkles, and icy brooks flow with a clear crispness that takes our breath away.

    Get ready. It will happen and soon. Suddenly it will be here. Donít be caught napping. Take the lead. Perhaps the weather will follow you.
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