Spring Has Sprung

I almost feel bad saying so—since so many of our friends around the country are still neck deep in snow!—but it definitely feels like spring has arrived here.  I used to laugh all our years in Maine when the official arrival of spring, around the 20th of March each year (give or take a day or so) we were still in the depths of winter.

Here, truth be told, we’ve spent fully the last two months waiting for “the next big snow” feeling that surely it would come, but it never did.  Never say never, I suppose—certainly it could conceivably still come—but it seems increasingly unlikely.

Winter was “odd” this year—the snow started very early, barely even November when the first good snowfall came, and there was no question we’d have a white Christmas. But after the first few (not all that deep) snows, there really wasn’t much more.  We did have one really cold spell—single digit temps—but even that was brief and most of the other days have been pleasant with ample sunshine to keep it from feeling too cold.

Forsythias from Chris and Louise's yard

Flowers are out!  Our first little crocuses popped their heads out not too long ago and, true to all those pictures you see, it snowed a few days later and they bravely bobbed their pale purple heads above the snow.  All the white-stuff was gone by midday, though (too quickly for me even to capture a photo) and they’re now gone, giving way to the tulips, forsythia, and apricot blossoms.

We used to think, during our years in Costa Rica, that we’d seen enough change of seasons to last us and we thoroughly enjoyed the “year ’round spring” that Costa Rica is famous for.  It’s funny, we’d not even felt that we “missed” the different seasons until we were actually back amongst them, and now we thoroughly enjoy each change, four times a year.

Apricots in bloom

Utah has a particularly nice “set” of seasons.  All four are very clearly represented, and really nicely so.  Starting with where we are now, spring is spectacular. (A nice spring is one of the few things I missed once I left the south, some thirty years ago. It’s nice to have it back!) Then summer can, of course, be hot, but the dryness makes it remarkably bearable.  We are able to turn the A/C off almost every night and not feel the need to turn it back on until midday the next day, so we enjoy much of the “open windows” climate we liked in Costa Rica.

Fall Leaves

Fall Leaves up in the Mountains

Fall is, again, lovely, with cooling temperatures, blue skies, bright sun.  We don’t have the spectacular leaves that we had in Maine, but still plenty of nice color, particularly when we take the season as an excuse for nearby day-trips further into the mountains.  And then winter rolls around with its snowy beauty but with dry sunny days to keep it from feeling too grim.

Of course all is not perfect (is it anywhere?!?) so there are winter days with the Salt Lake Valley’s infamous “inversion” and resulting bad air. We’re lucky that our home up here on the furthest “uphill” side of Centerville is almost always above it, so while we can look down on it, we’re not actually in it.  And let’s not forget that we’re essentially living in high desert, so lack of rain or snow—i.e. drought—can be a problem.

But we find those to be minor issues—described more in the interest of full disclosure rather than true annoyances—and now that we’ve been here a bit more than two full years, we continue to appreciate it literally every day.

Now I’m looking forward to gardening season.  Louise—bless her heart!—came over today and helped me clear out a big part of our landscaping bed that runs along the side of the house and David was so inspired by our work that he took the big loppers down and pruned back the roses. (Louise was a bit horrified since he had no real idea what he was doing, but I said he couldn’t possibly know any less than I did last year when I pruned them, and they’d survived and thrived, so I thought it would be fine!)

Re-growing romaine lettuce in the window

Meanwhile, I’m doing a bit of “gardening” indoors, having learned that you can re-grow things like romaine lettuce and scallions in water in your kitchen window-sill. The romaine is amazing—it begins growing so fast you can’t believe it, literally within the first day of putting it up there. But the actual rate of growth is pretty slow, so now some weeks later, just as promised in what I’d read, we have lettuce that’s about four inches tall.  So, it’ll be a while before we’ll feast on the resulting salad, but it’s still fun.  It’s free, it’s organic (we started with organic romaine), and fun to watch.

She's a great puzzle-doer

And, what about Avila—our primary “reason” to move here?  Well, glad you asked! She’s wonderful, approaching her third birthday next month.  She’s incredibly verbal, literally narrating her life as she moves through it.  She continues to come out with things that just stop us in our tracks as we look, amazed, at each other and say, “How is it possible that she knows that?!?”

Nothing is as precious as when she snuggles up to me, lays her head against me, and says, “I love you, Grandma!”

Stealing M&Ms from the table while she was supposed to be napping!

If we’d ever wondered about coming back—and frankly, we never do!—that would surely overcome everything else!

A few more pix below….




A great cook already!

Ta-Dah! Olympics day at Gymnastics

Entranced with Clifford the Big Red Dog on PBS

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18 Responses to Spring Has Sprung

  1. Deborah Kauffeld says:

    Hello Arden!
    Two flowers I long to see again – forsythia and lily of the valley. Thanks for showing me one of them! There is something about spring, coming as it does every year after winter, that always made my heart sing! “Perennial spring” just isn’t the same. Frank Lloyd Wright felt that when you first entered a house, you should enter into a compressed space. Then, when finally entering into the spacious grandeur of the living space, it was as if the sudden expansion caused one’s spirit to expand. I think I feel the same about the constriction of winter and the expansion of spring. Without winter there can be no real spring. I’ve been without a real spring for nearly two decades and I realize how much I miss it after reading your blog! To be honest, I also miss winter and fall! Summer, not as much since I’ve been living in the lands of brutal summers (Tucson, Costa Rica and Florida)!

    Avila is so adorable! I cannot believe how old she is already! I’m sure she makes your heart soar!

    Happy spring, Arden!

    • arden says:

      Hi, Deborah,

      Yes — ironically we really “missed” spring all our years in Maine. WInter “stopped” (more or less) but it seemed to just enter this blah period of nothingness until finally late May/June rolled around and things greened up, flowers came out, etc. It was lovely, but never quite fulfilled my desire for “spring” and, here, just as you say, it quite gloriously heralds the end of winter, comes on quite early, lasts a long time, and we just love it! We love all the seasons here, in fact, and feel very lucky that this is where we ended up. (And, yes, Avila is just wonderful; we have such an amazing time with her!)

      Thanks and hugs to you!

  2. Martha B. Higgins says:

    It’s always so nice to read your updates, so interesting to see Avila growing up so quickly, and it seems impossible you have been in Utah for two years already. Be glad you aren’t in Maine this winter, it’s never going to end, apparently. 16 degrees tonight as I was driving home from work about 10pm, and expected to get to 2 degrees overnight, with a wind chill of -10. Mother Nature better make up for this with a beautiful, long Spring!

    • arden says:

      Hi, Martha,

      I know — it’s hard to believe we’ve been here two years, and that Avila will be THREE next month! And we are *daily* appreciative that we’re not in Maine — or practically anywhere else in the country. We’ve had this amazingly “easy” winter while the whole rest of the country, it seems, has been smacked down with storm after storm. I hope you get a GREAT spring/summer to help make up for it all. ;-)


  3. Ginger says:

    Beautiful pictures, Arden. Loved the talk about Costa Rica — we miss it too :0 but SO happy to be back in the land of four seasons. And a granddaugher? I want one, lol!!!

    • arden says:

      Yes, it’s funny how we *felt* like we didn’t miss the four seasons there, but boy do we appreciate them now! And love seeing your new adventure. Ironically, I’d just last week read the book “Trailersteading” about using cheap (sometimes even free) old trailers as a viable foundation to “get going” on building a homestead. ;-) Can’t wait to follow along with your adventures. Sounds like you guys and the boys are doing well. I was thinking of you just today as I was making another batch of laundry detergent. I promise I’ll post that soon over at the other blog and send you a note when I do.

      • Ginger says:

        How did you know that was me??? I mean, I figured you’d figure it out but that fast? I disguised myself. What gave it away? I need to fix that… Damn… ok, don’t tell anyone. I’m seriously trying to be anonymous on that blog.

        • arden says:

          Well, that’s why I was careful to NOT say anything in my reply that would “give it away” to anyone else! ;-) Your email shows up on comments (not to the public, but to the blog owner) so I recognized that, then could easily “decipher” your info at the blog. My suggestion would be to get a new email that’s just for that blog.

          • Ginger says:

            I thought about that but I have so many email addresses. It’s hard to keep track now. And, ya know, it’s not like I’m in any danger… at least not yet :)

          • arden says:

            Yeah, since your email only shows up on the “inside” to blog owners where you post a comment, probably not a huge problem. Had I just stumbled across the blog, I don’t think anything would have tipped me off. ;-)

  4. Rosi Matheson says:

    Hello Arden,
    Great to hear from you and to see how Avila has grown. The pictures are great!
    Thom and I have not missed the four seasons, but we have only lived here in Costa Rica for the past nine months. We are; however, looking forward to the rainy season (I thought I would never say this!), along with a lot of the expats in our area.
    For now, we are very happy to never have to see snow again, and I do not believe that this will change anytime soon. We may feel different in a few years of living here….
    Enjoy your Spring. Looking forward to your next blog.

    • arden says:

      Hi, Rosi,

      So good to “see” you here!! Yes, we really didn’t miss the “4 seasons” at all while we were there — it was only once we were back IN them that we appreciated them again, oddly enough. And we find the snow here to be particularly “un-offensive” compared to Maine since it’s usually light and dry (and we, admittedly, had an easy winter this year — especially compared to everywhere else!) so we’ve found we don’t really mind it. ;-) And, YES, we found that each year in CR we very much looked forward to the two season “changes” that there were. The dry season seems wonderful when it starts, but then you’re craving the rain, the greenness, the settling down of the dust and so on by the time the rainy season starts up. And then after the often-awful rain of September/October at the end of the rainy season, you *can’t wait* for the dry season to begin! We really enjoyed those CR seasons for a number of years — like much of Costa Rica, we “enjoyed” it for our years there and we don’t miss it now that we’re back. Glad you’re enjoying it and look forward to hearing about your new adventures there!

  5. Michele says:

    People are happy until they’re they’re not – or admit they’re not – and then they make a change. What’s the point of trying to champion or defend a personal choice? You’ll get thumbs up from those who are also happy to be ex-ex-pats, and irritate others who clung to your every word when you were living about Costa Rica. Your friends are glad you appreciate every day in Salt Lake City (even if we don’t understand why). But what’s to be gained by comparing SLC to places you used to live, where many of your friends still live?

    • arden says:

      Hi, Michele,

      Good to see you here, although not entirely sure what you mean in your comments. ;-) I think “comparing” places we’ve lived is a natural process—it’s how we sort through our lives, our experiences. Certainly my friends who still live in Costa Rica won’t be threatened by my “comparisons” to Salt Lake! I don’t see it as “championing” a choice, as though it were a contest.

      The whole “point” of this blog—to the extent there is one!—is to share our experiences with others, and to help still others who might be looking at the move with a “broader” perspective than in some of what can be easily found.

      I think your very idea that “people are happy until they’re not” is a wonderful way to express it, and one that most of us (speaking of ourselves and now our many friends who have moved back) didn’t even think about before they moved. It never occurred to us we wouldn’t want to stay in CR forever, and now we’re finding that many folks (like us) thoroughly enjoyed their time there, and then found it time to move on, something they never even acknowledged might happen. My ramblings about our own process might help others in their process.

      So, in my view, that’s “what’s to be gained.” You’re the first person who seems to have been “irritated” and I’m sorry for that—can’t even fully imagine why.

      If you’re happy there, then what difference does it make how my own life has evolved? ;-)


      • Michele says:

        I am not the first person who expressed concern. In 2012 you yourself wrote:
        “Despite my belief that I was writing this marvelously “balanced” view of what we’d loved about Costa Rica, and what we were now loving about being back in the United States, a couple of months ago I had two separate friends — good and dear friends — tell me their concerns that my “being so negative” about Costa Rica was going to keep people from wanting to move there, which might impact on their [current or future] house sales.”
        What difference does it make? Your previous opinions about Costa Rica had a huge impact on the lives and finances of your partners in Costa Rica. Paul and I are indeed happy, but I think we’re the only ones who would do it over again (and certainly not the initial house construction).
        Were you right before and wrong now? Or right now and wrong before? Or right both times? Each person has to do what feels right, when it does, regardless of what might be right or wrong for others…

        Just a counterpoint!

  6. arden says:

    Well, I’d say I was “right” both times — that’s the real *point* to all this, people’s lives really do change and it seems smart to recognize that. We absolutely would “do it all over again,” no question. And I can’t find anything “negative” about Costa Rica in this blog post at all, so I’ll continue on with my slight puzzlement about your irritation. (And it might be reminded that the two people I’d commented on before, that you were referring to just here, were both trying to sell houses which was the core of their concern.)

    I actually do NOT in any way think people should not consider—and very likely even go through with—moving to Costa Rica. We think it was a tremendous life adventure. I just think—based on so much of what we’ve seen now—that it’s far less likely to be a “permanent” move than most folks (us included) initially think. And being aware of that *might* lend some folks to different decisions about how they do things, which I think is a benefit.

    You’re, of course, completely allowed your opinion if you think that awareness is not a benefit. I continue to *not* see myself in any way as bashing Costa Rica, nor do I think that observing the things we appreciate and love about our new home is “championing a personal choice” —it is, after all, a personal blog about our experiences moving back.

    I am truly sorry that you find what I write irritating, since the primary purpose of the blog really is just keeping friends updated on our experiences and most seem to enjoy reading. Sorry that you don’t.


    • Michele says:

      Well, I think some of what we’re discussing here is not actually said in the blog (or not said often enough), and is very significant, particularly:

      “I actually do NOT in any way think people should not consider—and very likely even go through with—moving to Costa Rica. We think it was a tremendous life adventure. I just think—based on so much of what we’ve seen now—that it’s far less likely to be a “permanent” move than most folks (us included) initially think. And being aware of that *might* lend some folks to different decisions about how they do things, which I think is a benefit.”

      I agree completely, and the experiences of a number of ex-expats seem to support your observation. Be it Florida, Tulsa, or SLC. So I’m not sure the fact that you are so happy in SLC says anything about SLC, and perhaps everything about Avila – who is also the main reason I tune in to read your blog!

      Hugs back,

  7. arden says:

    Oh, without doubt, Avila is by far the most wondrous thing about being back!! Hands down! ;-) It’s simply interesting to us how much we *do* like Salt Lake City, though. And since it’s a new place to us, it’s intriguing to “look at” those things that we find we like.

    Although Avila’s actual birthday isn’t until this Saturday (the 19th) there were complicated reasons that led to her party being yesterday, so there’s probably a very “Avila focused” blog coming up soon, once I get some of the pictures! And Connor’s, of course, coming right after that. (Am I remembering right that his is the 24th, right after yours?) We’ll get together (just the family) this weekend — easter egg hunt on Saturday and then easter dinner (and her family presents) on Sunday. So, lots of fodder for a new post. ;-)


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