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Spring in Vermont - such a carnival! It feels like every plant, animal, and insect just got let out of prison, and is madly making up for lost time. It's also the time of year when the days get palpably longer, and already dusk stretches out towards nine o'clock. Spring is Vermont's underhanded way of trying to make me forget about the winter, but I won't be suckered. I still have those heating oil receipts.

I went out into the garden today to hoe, and to my astonishment some of the weeds had already reached the kind of size I can only hope the "official" crop plants will hit by August. All this on ground that just three weeks ago was covered by snow. The lawn has turned into a carpet of yellow dandelions, and I whir through them ineffectually with the hand mower, sweating like crazy, while obese shirtless men in the neighboring yards zoom around on mini-tractors, without a care in the world. The riding mower is a powerful totem of Vermont manhood. I've even heard whispered rumors of riding mowers that come equipped with cruise control and a cup holder, so you can kick up your feet and sip on a cold one while you mow your lawn. I too want to take off my shirt and climb aboard a mini tractor, but the better half won't let me. She knows that the instant I do this I will reach middle age.

Going out into the yard of late has demanded ninja-like stealth, because we have a vigilant mama robin nesting on our deck. She has made a home for herself in an overturned planter near the kitchen door, and I go through agonies of remorse every time I spook her. Which is, invariably, every time I go out. Having the robin present has turned our house into Wild Kingdom - instead of nature shows, there is the miracle of life right outside our kitchen window. And fresh robin's egg omelettes on demand.

This morning the better half noticed that one of the eggs has begun to make strange noises. How exciting is that? The cats and I sit transfixed by the screen door, listening.

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