Early spring is a test of visual deprivations.

Scents are coming back on the breezes. The fug in the barn when we leave the house is damp wood, hint of tilth, awakening squirrel den, and thawing woodpile. Daffodils, lilacs and cut grass are at least a month away.

It’s worth the wait to get to spring peepers in the pond, their voices awakened from spring rains and snow run off—a twilight chorus like no other. Tree crews were up and down the roads this week clearing near the power lines, adding a whiff of wet wood chips in the air while we sloshed along the road to walk the dog this morning.

In late March and early April we hole up on weekends. The five miles of dirt roads that lead to our village turn to a murky, muddy, rutted, sloshy, gooshy mess. It’s hard on the cars, and it takes twice as long to get out to pavement this time of year. (Picture driving 5 miles through 18 inches of brownie batter, except it’s scented with clay, pond bank and a tinge of expectation.)

I’m nursing my houseplants with extra vigilance until I can glimpse some greenery through the wavy old window glass. The olive green of the various old white pines isn’t enough to offset mud and snowpiles.

Just down the road my parents have daffodil shoots pushing up near their southern foundation. Only the east side of our house has any bare ground. Duly noted for a place to plant bulbs next fall. The hundreds that pop up all around this property are all still cloaked with a foot or more of snow.

Today I’ll work on a new painting (shown in painted sketch here) of a friend’s farmhouse glimpsed up a silvan path in high summer, make a chicken pie, clean the bathroom, and help finish up the paperwork to file our taxes. Probably not in that order. But that’s the order of my enthusiasm. All fueled by a continuous stream of tea, diminishing in caffeine content as the day progresses.

Outside the gray sky hints at rain.

And rain hints at the thaw that will come.

The peepers that will come.

The daffodils that will come.