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Welcome back to Magnetic North, where mud season seems to have come and gone. But wait, April Fool’s is right around the corner. Remember last year? I had to don snowshoes to get out to our barn that day. This winter has been merciful in its duration, cold and snow. Just enough to have fun, but not so much that it takes two summers before we recover. And while most Marches find me muttering “I don’t think I’m going to make it,” while staring out over our still white meadow, this year I can see the first hints of green on the ground.

I WILL say that chores are more of a drag now. My old green plastic kiddy sled I use to haul water buckets, grain and hay, glides over snow no matter how much stuff is piled on it. Now, with only dry grass between house and barn, I fantasize about a nice little four-wheel wagon instead of my suddenly sluggish sled.

The chores take hours and hours on these first days of spring. Mainly because its so darned cool to be outside without hat, coat, gloves and ice cleats weighing me down. And the joy of being able to simply toss out the water in buckets! No more thawing them, and the frozen mud on their bottoms, in our hallway.

Not to mention the fun of puttering around, picking up the detritus of winter - the deer mouse carcass outside the barn door. The earring I thought I lost in the coop, found in the corral. The fallen branches that make a nifty hay feeder for the goats. And the petrified Halloween pumpkin skin that makes our Lab’s favorite-ever Frisbee.

We finally got the 60-foot tall spruce that fell on the outhouse last year fully down. When our friend and his two grown sons finished the job, the reason for the old tree’s tumble came to light. Solid rot except for a small living artery that kept the tree’s top alive these past years. So when those terrific winds sneaked up on her in the night, she broke.

And yet, she twisted just enough on her way down to miss the chicken coop and run by inches. And the outhouse? Just a small hole in the roof. Hey, free ventilation!

On another goat note, the electric fence around the corral is on the fritz again, so my darlings are roaming free alongside me for now. They peel off in twos, Alpine mom and kid lounge with their sides pressed against a large rock, shamelessly soaking in the warmth.

Yearling cashmere kids butting each other for a turn in the sandy horseshoe pits, marvelous rolling and scritch-scratching fun. For them, as for me, the possibilities of what to do with a day seem endless.

The waters themselves can’t seem to be still.  Even in the dark of evening, I can just barely hear the familiar voice of hundreds of intermittent streams as they rush around the meadow. Winter’s silence is broken. Long live the spring of 2010.

April Fool’s blizzards and all!