Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spring, despite itself

Today the temperature is hovering in the mid-teens, and with the wind, it feels closer to zero. There have been intermittent snow showers, a hazy sun obscured and finally gone for the day as steel gray clamped on the skyline. The mountains are obscured by slow moving clouds and fog. We have been running the wood stove on sticks Norman has cut from dead trees in our yard, as we ran out of our bought wood almost a month ago.

It's cold. It's winter. In Pennsylvania (though I know this winter has been different) I would have planted onion seeds with seventh graders in the greenhouse by this time, been harvesting from the high tunnel with morning work crews, and had delivery of my season of seeds and potting mix from Vermont Compost (another irony being that I now live within 5 miles of this fine living growing medium selling establishment). This is a very different season.

I had a revelation of this difference on the thaw last week. For three days temperatures soared into the 40s. I went for a mid-morning run in only leggings and fleece. I closed my eyes into the sun, running down the hill on the road. I got to see mud and the erosion of these unpaved back roads. I got a taste of the fifth season in Vermont called mud season. I have the wrong shoes.

And though the light and warmth was a blessing and surprise, it did not, on the whole, make me happy. I felt robbed of time, like I should have been planting onions already. Like I was making a mistake, in fact I still was in Pennsylvania. I also felt scared, scared of being one step closer to getting into soil, starting seed in the basement, making a go of this farm. It was a lot to get from a day in the sun, but I took it.

Lucky for me, it froze up again on Sunday and we haven't looked back. I get to have my Vermont winter. I get to plan and take the time needed to learn what I need to learn. I've written a survey for folks on their farm loving habits. I've begun to clean out the basement, plan for seedlings, chicks, workspace for building a hive. We've opened our business bank account, and I am pricing supplies.

But that's not the whole story. In the past days and weeks, as day length increases, there has been an interesting and much forgotten experience from my youth-- indoor spring. A proliferation of ladybugs have attached to our bathroom window. Spiders we brought in with the wood are getting fat on our fly population. There was a large assassin bug in our pantry. The grapevine given to us by a beloved family member and friend is sprouting new leaves in our downstairs south facing bathroom.

These are all promises of a spring that I know is waiting under all this snow, past the zero temperatures and 20 mile an hour winds. At lunch with the men who came to prune our orchard of plums, pears, apple, apricot, and cherry, the joke was when Norman asked, We do get spring here, right? And the reply--Yes, around the 4th of July. But that's only a story we tell ourselves. What's true is life is waking up, even in this cold, and we have to pay attention to its awakening, and welcome whatever it brings.

Happy spring.

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