As Vermont continues to allow people to return to work, we’re starting to see some of our local landscapers, property managers and contractors out and about.

The days are getting longer and the grass is slowly getting greener. That coupled with the fact that it seems Vermonters may be flattening the COVID-19 curve offers some solace and even hope. There were no new COVID-19 cases today and no COVID-19 deaths in a week. That is cause for cautious optimism.

For me, hope was generated on Wednesday morning in the form of a blue pickup truck trailering a yellow tractor that backed slowly up the road.

While working from the dining room table with earbuds, cellphone, multiple chargers and too much coffee, I watched Doug Barnes release his tractor from the trailer and drive down my driveway and across my lawn to my vegetable gardens, one large and one smaller.

While writing my last news story and then tuning it to Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s press conference, my attention was drawn repeatedly to Doug driving back and forth, front to back over my dirt, transforming those postseason matted, beige and weedy patches to so much gorgeous, rich, brown dirt.

It was hard to look away as my gardens emerged from their long rest. And, as I watched, I felt something that I’d been missing throughout this long, long, long six weeks – hope and even joy at the prospect of the garden.

When this week’s issue of The Valley Reporter is off to the printer, I’m going to go out there and put my hands on that dirt. I’m going to dig around in it.

I’m going to smell it and savor the thought of summer and tomatoes and beans and lettuce and carrots and potatoes and basil and summer squash with giant sunflowers ringing the back and other annuals adorning the rows.

Never underestimate the power of small things to uplift – for me the yellow tractor was the highlight of the week.