Eight Indicators of Spring from a Seasoned Vermont Mom


As I sit here, sipping my lime White Claw and binging Girl Scout cookies after a rare smooth, and easy bedtime routine with my kids, I realize spring is finally coming! To some, that thinning layer of snow, the appearance of some sparse blades of grass, and minutes-longer-days are key moments signaling spring is here. When I was a kid, AAU Basketball tryouts and practices were my sign spring was coming. In college, that sweet week-long break after basketball season was done was my reminder to study for midterms and finals- or try some new beverage blends.

And now? I traded in those sweet signs for Vermont’s more notorious indicators that spring is about to be sprung. Hold on, folks…

Here are my top eight indicators of spring:

Washboard roads

You know that feeling when the sun is shining, it’s 40 degrees, you pop the moonroof open to absorb the fresh air, and decide to take that back-road to town?

Give it two seconds and those washboard roads pockmarked with potholes will bring you right back down to reality! As the first of the eight indicators of spring, this really sets the tone for the next three months until construction season hits. Town road crews are phenomenal where we live. They work so hard this time of year filing the dirt holes the best they can, trying to combat the effect freezing nights and sunny days have on our dirt roads. You’d think maybe we would learn to avoid those roads for the undue stress they place on our vehicles. And you’re right, that would be a smart decision. However, I’ll take the roads less traveled for those horse barn/hayfield visuals ANY day of the year. I’ll just apologize to my truck every other second when it sounds like she might rattle apart.

horses in a snowy field in the springPothole Peggy has an eye on your front tire

Speaking of those potholes, I don’t mind the bumps on a dirt road, but get me on a paved road that wants to swallow my entire truck and I suddenly feel annoyed. I’m thankful I live in the country on a mountainside and rarely travel into town because those paved road potholes were nightmares when I was a kid. Learning to drive while having my dad in the front seat sharply inhaling his breath and pursing his lips because I couldn’t avoid every pothole was stressful! I think I finally get it though. His perspective, I mean. Just the other day I started groaning as my husband was driving down a cracked road with a hint of paving. It was miserable. Yes, there are worse things in life, but then again- this is just the second of many indicators of spring in Vermont. Get ready for those road construction delays!

Weight Limit signs on backcountry roads

Can you tell that I live in the woods yet? I love it. The sudden appearance of Weight Limit signs on some of our town roads sparks my nostalgic awareness that spring really is coming. These signs spring up around mud season and they are a reminder to truckers and anyone carrying excess weight in their vehicle to turn around and take a more established route. It’s a way of trying to preserve our less-traveled roads from deteriorating altogether.

Indicator of Spring
Notice the small sign, with even smaller writing- Spring is coming!

Smells like spring, feels like frostbite

I felt like a mess the other day when it was somewhat warmer out, so I tornado-cleaned my house and rearranged my bedroom. The windows weren’t open because I’m not trying to heat the planet, but my house smelled refreshing. I have no idea how to explain why it smelled like spring in my house. I can tell you it smelled amazing, though. Then, in typical Vermont fashion, it dropped to single-digit temperatures that night. Our poor chickens got a taste of spring weather, only to be shut in their coop the following day to keep warm. It sounds terrible, but they have a great coop to ride out the weather. It’s a tricky time of year for animals- warm one day and freezing the next. Sometimes, I think Forrest Gump was talking about Vermont weather when making the comparison to a box of chocolates. You really never know what you’re going to get.

Maple sugaring smokestacks

smoke and steak coming out of the smokestack of a Vermont maple sugaring house.It is such a beautiful time of year when the maple sugaring smoke stacks start to produce smoke and steam as the sap is boiled. The smell of boiling sap over an open flame is hard to beat. This nostalgic indicator of spring is my subtle reminder I still have yet to tap and try making my own maple syrup! Tapping a maple tree, collecting sap, boiling, eating… well, at least I think that’s the order of events. It’s almost a Vermonter right of passage. I know many families that are in the sugaring business, heck my brother and his family tapped their own backyard maple trees last year! It was inspiring! In my true fashion though, this is the time of year I make a too-late plan to tap some of our maple trees on our 30+ acres of land. I want my kids to grow up knowing how to tap and make their own maple syrup for the pancakes they’ll inevitably learn to cook. Okay, for that far-off time when I’ll let them use the stove. Good thing we have plenty of time for me to procrastinate a while longer.

Poop pile anxiety

Where are my dog lovers? Or, chicken lovers? Or, fans of any other animal that poops outside during the winter? Do you start to feel that spring rush of anxiety when the sun lingers a little longer and those snowy mounds start to melt like Olaf stoking the fireplace- and you start to notice ALL of those landmines? I call them landmines because if we don’t get them before our oldest dog, he won’t need to eat for a week- if you know what I mean.

Then our kids also run around the yard pointing out “POOP!” as if I’m the magical poop fairy that makes them all disappear. Oh, wait. I am (and my husband is too). Or, the chicken poop piles- we have one dog that will try to eat them like a buffet, and one that will roll around in them. Dogs are so great, aren’t they?

It’s a tricky time of year. You want to remove all the poop piles, but some are frozen solid to the ground still. Better hold off for warmer weather. See, procrastinating can be a beautiful thing for this indicator of spring.

Indicator of Spring
That sunshine melting snow highlighting all the landmines underneath.

Missing clothes

I heard recently that young kids, presumably the same people who are mocking side parts and skinny jeans, are rocking booty shorts and flip-flops outside when walking to pick up the mail. I can appreciate the subtle shedding of layers during this confusing weather season due to the sudden overwhelming nature of the sun- but I am now reconsidering removing my scarf! I can not imagine being outside longer than the time it takes our dog to leave a landmine without a winter hat, gloves, a scarf, and my husband’s tall winter boots. I do remember the days of childhood though when the first days of 40-degree weather signaled the time to don t-shirts in the weak rays of the spring sun. Maybe that’s why I have a sweater around me at all times now, just in case I get a little chilly. In any case- kids, put some clothes on. Maybe grab a nice pair of “slender pants” since you object to skinny jeans!

Chick days

Have you ever visited a Tractor Supply Store, or a Guys Farm and Yard store in the springtime? If you’re easily persuaded to buy pets, don’t go! This indicator of spring we stumbled on last year shortly after the pandemic shut down society. I learned after we brought home six chickens and four guinea hens that “Chicken Math” is a legitimate concern. There are many jokes among chicken folk that you walk into a store planning to buy a couple of birds, then walk out with a flock three times the size!

Baby chicks are some of the most adorable little babies I’ve seen. You just want to snuggle every single one and give them a nice new home in the countryside. Okay, maybe that was just us. Either way, we have great tick control for all of our animals now, and our DIY chicken coop/chicken run only cost us a little more than a mortgage payment to build! The daily fresh eggs totally make up for the expense, right? Yes, those sweet baby chicks are hard to resist, and they’re great family pet additions providing you wash your hands every few seconds and don’t bring that Salmonella poop into the house.

Indicator of spring
2020 Chick days family addition.

So, what are your favorite and most dreaded indicators of spring? What kind of things do you notice this time of year in Vermont that signal to you that the seasons are changing? For me, I’ll be out in the woods, welcoming our new puppy and thinking of names for our new chickens.

Eight Indicators of Spring from a Seasoned Vermont Mom

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Kelli Hier Pike
A born and raised Vermonter, Kelli got her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Vermont, then joined the Vermont Air National Guard, where she met her husband. After that, she got her Master’s Degree in Digital Forensic Science from Champlain College. She and her husband and bought a house in the woods with 30+ acres of land to raise their two kids (4 and 2), three dogs, two cats, six chickens, and three guinea hens. Kelli stays home with her kids and pets while running her own wood crafting business, Tabor Ridge Designs, during nap-times. Kelli occasionally writes for her own mom blog, Calm Collected Mom, because we can all dream. She doesn't always think of herself as a writer, but she often has conversations with people over similar life frustrations and wants everyone to know that they're not alone. Life is full of irritations and annoyances, but Kelli thinks that we’ll get through it with a great story to tell afterward!


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