desperate spring

desperate spring

the smell of rain
the smell
of rain
the smell of

Waiting on Spring, all rights reserved, Nicki Steel, 2013
Waiting on Spring (photo:Nicki Steel, 2013, all rights reserved)

Hugs between friends last a bit longer this time of year; while caffeine and chocolate consumption climbs. It’s not winter. It’s the in between time. The waiting. The last foot of snow. The slow melt.

Those of us who can’t leave, head east to Brattleboro, where a 10 mile difference makes for grass. Like winter refugees, we soak up their signs of spring; our lives held hostage by a hill. By mud. By a home. By a family to whom we’re expected to return, and to make dinner and small talk; when what we really want to do is drive south. And never stop.

(I can’t go. I can’t go. I can’t. Right? Even if friends post beach weather just 300 miles away. )

My husband suggests that I work down in Brattleboro this week. “It’s supposed to be sixties in town,” he says. “It will only make it to about 50 up here.”

I add another piece of wood to the stove and try to settle in with a cup of tea; but my mind is as itchy and inflamed as my skin; desperate to shed winter’s wool.

I look outside and note the increasing signs–the green cap of the septic tank, the garden beds, the dry patches of dead grass–indicating land in what has been a sea of snow. Despite this welcome melting, winter continues to trump spring; white beats brown; and my glass is half-empty, and leaking.

“Why don’t we go down to Brattleboro now,” my husband says.

Though it sounds like a booby prize to the beach, I reluctantly get dressed so that he and I can walk the streets downtown, without boots, and drift into shops, and join an event at the River Garden center which sits on the Connecticut and has a glass roof that lets in lots of light.

There we find live music and hot chai and loads of desserts and fellow refugees from up the hill. I hug one too long, as if holding on; and then I dash back toward the front entrance. Toward a sudden and unexpected rain. Not rain on snow which is a sad, sad thing. But rain on earth. And rain on roads. And rain on sidewalks and rooftops–and us.

Just as the sky really lets loose, the sun bursts onto the scene–with a rainbow–stretching across the Connecticut and touching down at the foot of Mt. Wantastiquet. People flock out the back exit onto the deck to see the promise of color; because even though Brattleboro has lost its snow, it is stalled in monochrome.

One man turns toward me, beaming, noting the sweet smell.

“Don’t you love it,” I say, restraining myself from embracing him.

“I smelled it this morning too,” he continues. “Up at our place where there’s still a foot of snow.”

“Two feet,” his wife counters.

“But it smelled like rain, even without earth,” he says.

I smile. And sniff. And consider the different scents that come with rain; and wonder if it has its own.

I walk back to the front entrance and smell the sidewalks and the road. I return to the deck and smell the wood and the earth and the river. I finish back at the road and stay there awhile because it takes me to my childhood. To rain on hot tar in Virginia. Lying face down in the road so that I could soak up every ounce of that delicious, fresh scent before the sun smoked it away.

We linger past the rain, and into the evening at the River Garden, and when we finally head home, into the hills of snow, I feel freer. I decide to stay put. To be here to bear witness to my own spring’s emergence–to the return of our very first Robin; and even more beholding–to the appearance of a baseball–tribute to the life once lived–right here–where it shall return again.

Kelly Salasin, Marlboro, VT, April 8, 2013

Travel Tips from Facebook (FB) Friends

Travel Tips from Facebook (FB) Friends

I’m not sure what this travel piece is doing on my Vermont blog, except that it’s so000000 good to get outta here every now and then–especially after 5 months of the white stuff!

Every Vermonter has the fantasy of escaping at least part of winter–or better yet–to take off during that dreadful time of year that we don’t mention in travel brochures: MUD season!

So why am I so anxious about leaving smack in the middle of it? I guess I’m STUCK.  It’s been 2 decades since I settled into these Green Mountains, and even longer since I traveled abroad.


mud tires, Waloszek (

I used  to be a rolling stone… an Army brat who attended at a half-dozen different schools in as many states… and then backpacked through Europe 3 times before setting some roots.

Which is why despite the fact that they put their early SPRINGS in my face, I  appreciate my Facebook friends. In the past few weeks, they’ve shared their best travel tips, helping thaw my “cold feet” when it comes to finally leaving this place I call home.

Facebook Friends Travel Tips

MONEY. How do you bring it, spend it, keep it safe?

FB Replies: 7

ATM machines then keep cash close to your body.
Careful at ATMs. If a machine doesn’t work and someone offers to help you.
Check bank and credit cards for the rate they charge for using them abroad – use the one that has the best rate.

ATM’s totally. It’s all I use. Also – I always have at least two cards, just in case something goes wrong with one of them

Don’t use your debit card as a debit card – only a credit card. Know your PIN for your credit cards so you can get cash. And yes, bring 2 for sure.
Wear a money belt
Let your credit card companies where you’ll be traveling so that they expect charges from there. Sometimes they refuse charges if you are not a frequent traveler!


Hodler, detail,


What do I wear on an overnight flight so that so that I don’t arrive feeling wilted?

FB Replies: 12

Black yoga pant & tunic-type top–like one of the nice kurtas from Dragonfly. Or leggings and short dress…..comfy if you can. Also, you will get your luggage before you see your hosts (go through customs, etc.), so you can freshen up, change, etc. in the bathroom.

I ALWAYS wear stretchy pants on the plane

Take Ambien.

Do not take Ambien.

I knew she would say that.

Wear support socks so you feet and legs don’t swell- bring toothbrush, hair product and light make-up on the plane.

Jammies, of course!

Lavender oil.

You are over thinking this… You are a traveler, you know how to travel! You have a personal style that’s carried you through thus far, rock that & they’ll love you, almost, just as much as I/we do…

White no wrinkle shirt–white always makes people look fresh and perky (honest!) so the black pants and white top, maybe a scarf and you look professional, refreshed and good to go!

You can freshen up in the rest room before going to luggage claim.
In Japan they actually had full shower rigs and lockers for a fee.

We flew to Hawaii once and before we landed they gave us hot towel/face cloths. Felt great!

Must haves for the flight?

Facebook replies: 15

I like to carry a pareo/sarong in my carry on bag. Works great as a blanket or pillow or throw it on as a shawl, also can become a makeshift bag if needed, you’ll find many uses. It’s a nice lightweight addition to my carry on.

Wear your biggest shoes.

Charcoal capsules.

Make a small 1st aid kit…. including benedryl, advil, bandaids etc

book notebook pen pencil sedoku camera socks pashmina
bandaid earplugs eye mask hand cream trashy magazine almonds gum mints advil cough drop lip balm chocolate

Take your sister!

fruit, or what ever you plan on eating that day, no yogurt or jams, phone, it’s charger, only take jewerly you are wearing, empty water bottle/canteen…

I always wear a scarf on the plane — if someone near me even hints of sneezing/coughing/sniffling, I wrap the scarf around my nose/mouth….

Do you have a neck pillow? I have an extra — makes a huge difference for sleeping on the long flight

your fav herbal tea bags

This is the best list.. love the scarf idea…i’m taking notes..

What is a pareo or a pashima?

I do the large scarf idea, too. Also, peppermint gum for any ear-popping or turbulence upset.

Some Elderberry tincture. One for the way there and one for the way back

Anything that may be needed just in case the checked baggage does not arrive in a timely manner

Check it or carry it on?

FB replies: 4

Be careful of the weight on that roomy suitcase. Going over the weight limit can cost you big. Make sure you keep your valuables with you. I usually carry my backpack with laptop and purse inside and then have my camera bag for my camera equipment, if I am taking it. Though I think they allow a camera bag as a third bag.

Emotional baggage limited to two checked pieces and one carry on…… So on second thought bring as little as possible!

Bring as little as possible, and pack an extra, stuffable duffle for the way home. Or bring stuff that you are happy to leave along the way in order to make space for what you collect. I also suggest having as little carry on as possible, particularly if traveling solo–it makes airport wandering and visits to the loo MUCH easier! Bon Voyage!

Beware: They now charge for carry ons unless they fit under the seat infront of you

Do you carry or check your toiletries? Any other toiletry tips?

FB replies: 16

How long is your flight/layovers? I carry what I may need in case of delay, like toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, lip balm, and an all in one shampoo-conditioner. Also will the 3 ounce size you are allowed to carry on be enough for your trip?

How long is your flight/layovers? I carry what I may need in case of delay, like toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, lip balm, and an all in one shampoo-conditioner. Also will the 3 ounce size you are allowed to carry on be enough for your trip?

check ’em! 3 oz is not much! I pack them in freezer ziplock bags. Easy to see what’s what and protects against spillage…Did you ever check out Rick Steve’s site? He’s the ultimate traveler.

You have to check any liquids/gels, so you’ll probably have to check your toiletries. sometimes i carry on a toothbrush sans toothpaste. but it’s really easier to check liquids/gels than make sure they’re small enough and in a clear plastic bag and you have to take it out as you go through security…big pain in ass.

CHECK them, different airports (believe it or not) allow different items, it’ll be a bummer to loose your coveted cleaning gear to tsa… Yes on toiletries bag, soo many nice ones out there these days…

Take the 3 oz items lotion, tp & put em in a sandwich baggie…

Think about what you might like to have on you in case of excess layover, or (the unspeakable) lost luggage…

Heck your ‘toiletries’ bag. You’ll need more than 3oz for you entire trip, the kind of shopping you want to be doing is for fun, not hairproducts, trust me & think of me, lol, while shooping for fun! Carry on in sandwich bag some toothpaste & lotion. Chances are your luggage will NOT get lost, that is not what you are manifesting.

If you’re checking luggage, check your toiletries, except for toothpaste etc. I travel for 2 weeks at a time, use only carry on, and shampoo etc is enough. If not, you can always buy some there. I check gel all the time, no issue.

I meant, as long as ligquids are 3.4 oz or less, you can take gel etc. I’ve never had any toiletry items removed as in the correct amount.
TSA link with specifics and link to international rules. It is 3.4 oz.

Also, hotels usually provide shampoo etc. so I either alternate using mine with the hotel, or use mine until it runs out and then use the hotel. I hate checking bags….

my mom’s toiletry bag just split this morning while visiting and the little shampoo bottle inside was leaking too. get a “travel/adventure gear” option from sams instead of a drug store version. more rugged. on the other hand, i spent 5 months washing my hair with the free liquid soap now available in every public bathroom in the world and that works just fine.

What are your favorite wardrobe items when traveling?

FB Replies: 7

It’s very simple – I pack for one week and expect to do laundry once. Also, clothes from Title IX — pack small, versatile, can dress up and down.

Black tunic that can be worn as dress or top! comfy clothes for getting into at end of day!

too hard to transfer 1 closet to the next, gotta see that wardrobe in person….pack for 7 days, “casual chic”… leggings and dresses, 2 scarves (see , I can only relate it to mine)
happy to come over when you think you’re packed and be rut…hless for you.

Black pants colorful tops that you can dress up or down with accessories you will be good with that

Black skirt from Sam’s, some natural fabric or other. You can wash in sink and it dries overnight.

Don’t forget some kind of cover. no matter what the climate it can get chilly!!!

Comfortable shoes!!!! Most important item!

I carry earrings in one of those snap open vitamin holders…. they don’t get tangled and can sort by color….

Roll your clothes; stuff underwear and socks in shoes; base layer in solid color can match many different tops;

Lots of high heels. You never know when you’ll get to go someplace FABULOUS.


Have some travel wisdom that was missing above or did you see something that you never thought of before? Let us know in the comment section below!

Kelly Salasin & Facebook Friends, March 2011