I have spring fever - someone help meGWYNETH HYNDMAN
The Montana dispatch:
A few weeks ago, a ranch guest from North Carolina entertained an entire table for an evening with stories about Blackbeard the pirate as the fire roared, the spring wind whistled under doorways, and the wet snow blanketed the porch outside.
The North Carolinian was a historian and filmmaker who has written several books about pieces of American history that have been lost, and then found.
But that night, the topic was Blackbeard and the beaches of North Carolina that none of us had sunk our feet into.
There were islands with clear, azure water that lapped at your ankles. Warm sands that crumbled under your toes.
Strange, strange history that mixed religious belief, superstition, and human craving to be thrilled after dark. And the fishing. Blue Marlin. Catfish. Don't get him started.
It had snowed a foot the night before and we were salivating for salty air and sea spray as he spoke.
That night was ''family style'' on the ranch, which means staff are invited to join the guests at long, white-linen tables by the stone fireplace that flicks on with switch and pass the bread and have wine poured for us as we eat prime rib and salmon with guests that have come from around the country to ski and snowshoe through Yellowstone looking for wolves.
In the past few weeks I have made peace with winter.
I have let myself be encased in snow.
I don't go anywhere, so I save money. I read good books. (recent favourites: Boleto, by Alyson Hagy and I Remember Nothing, a series of essays by Nora Ephron).
I have resigned myself to the glacial pace I, the Californian, have been so hell-bent on resisting.
I happily eat noodles with siracha in bed while trying to figure out how to download the new season of Offspring on my laptop.
I ski in the woods for alone time. I live for texts like ''think it's a full moon tonight - up for some snowshoeing?''
But in the past few weeks we have all started displaying occasional, and not so occasional signs of spring fever.
Tempers are fraying. Mini meltdowns are happening. And we are all freaking out about decisions that have to be made soon. (Seasonal work: great for freedom, lousy for stability).
Everyone is talking about Spring.
Where they will be. What job interview they just did that morning for a resort in Key West.
A wrangling job in Alaska. Or as a fishing guide in Wyoming. We are our own verbal noticeboards for roadtrips in the planning stages.
Life feels like a car park full of vehicles, all loading up, engines revving, and there is a passenger seat open in each of them. North? South? New York? California?
Which vehicle should I leap into?
It's all craziness. It is spring. So nothing is off the table. No dream roadtrip has gone unconsidered. Every week I have a new plan.
Which leads me to believe there is no definite course of action here that I am fated to take.
I just have to chose the vehicle, get in, and commit to wherever the highway takes me (can you tell I set up the dining room every afternoon listening to 90s country music?)
So when the North Carolinian invited the whole table to his home on Oracoke Island - the island where Blackbeard was killed and beheaded, and where, he swears, there are still pirate spirits that walk the beaches at night - I could feel each person at the table pause while slicing meat and pouring wine to contribute to the collective thought: roadtrip.
Because spring is all about planning that crazy need to go off course, do something a little off-kilter, right?
One of my favourite shows is Northern Exposure, a series from the late 90s about a New York doctor who unwillingly ends up in an Alaskan frontier town to pay off a debt.
There is a scene at the end of the episode ''Spring Break'' that reminds me off the cracking of the ice all around us in Big Sky right now, the need to disrobe, take a shot of brandy, and go running through the snow butt naked.
The gorgeous song at end of this clip (''In this wild, wanton world, let's all break down together'') is my anthem of Spring in all its feverishness.
Let's go crazy.
- The Southland Times