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05/07/07 12:00AM By Ruth Page
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(HOST) A couple of weeks ago, on one of the first real spring days of the year, commentator Ruth Page took advantage of the good weather - and took a walk.

(PAGE) What is so rare as an April day,
Sunny and perfect in every way,
Right here in Vermont, a whole week before May?
We had one: a marvelous Saturday.

It fell on April 21st, and I hope you were out in it. It was glorious: blue skies, richly blue-black Adirondacks rising beyond a smoothly silvered Lake Champlain, robins singing their little heads off, and crocuses flaunting their colors as if they had no recollection of the snow and dreary clouds that had haunted us for weeks.

Taking a walk in Shelburne through a wooded area down to the lake, I met a number of folks all tempted outside by the matchless weather. No tree yet had a leaf, but that made the views better: no leafy branches to interfere. Also, the bare white bones of sycamore and white birch can be lovelier than when they're clothed. For part of the day there wasn't even a cloud overhead. When a few wispy ones floated out, they retreated into the wings after floating aimlessly around for an hour or two. Back came the exuberant sunshine for which we'd waited so long.

Clumps of tiny yellow flowers lined the roadsides. They looked as if they had meant to be dandelions but were in too much of a hurry to wait their full growth, and sprang up to a brave two-inch height. There were a few early daffodils in some of the gardens, but none of the wild bursts of color that would come later, when spring really rolled up its sleeves and got going.

No, it was just a quiet, soothing, relaxing, "don't hurry" sort of day that offered simple lures to the outdoors. They were cheerful and restful after the cold winds, chilly nights, heavy-bellied gray clouds, and a late snowstorm that burdened the trees. As is typical in Vermont, when you suddenly get a perfect day, even the temperature making up for its long sulks, you feel you've earned it. It's the spring light at the end of the winter tunnel, and if we DO get one of those annoying May snows this year, we're pretty sure it will be more decorative than threatening.

Yes, I know, the strong winds a day or two after our perfect Saturday called for a helmet to hold your hair down, and you had to plan your walk so the wind would be at your back on the return trek, but there's something about a single perfect day that keeps your spirits aloft; you cannot doubt, as you did in early April, that spring is really going to do its thing again, as it has for centuries. Nature has started her spring cleaning on time. She'll be lifting her grasses and wildflowers above the winter-battered roadsides, and Vermont will look fresh and glowing with health once again.

Ruth Page has been following environmental issues for twenty years. She is a long time Vermont resident and currently lives in Shelburne.

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