February 22, 2014
Having spent the last two months finding ways to stay warm without bankrupting myself in the cold and snowy weather, this past week has been a pleasure. Most days have been in the high fifties to mid sixties, mostly sunny and windy. We even had one bright, cloudless day of 72, though winds of twenty to twenty five miles per hour – with gusts up to 62 – kept tipsy old me inside most of the time. I did throw open the back door and let the sun stream in through the storm door to warm the house, since the door faces east and the wind was from the south and west. Nice!
Our normal daytime temperature this time of year, is around fifty with nights in the upper twenties. Today might make it to sixty before a cold front moves in and drops the highs into the mid thirties and forties, beginning tomorrow.
(Wednesday calls for a high of thirty-one.) Nothing to complain about, after the last two months.
That will take us to the end of February and I’m hoping March will gradually warm up. With that in mind, I spent some time this past week organizing my seeds for planting and put the packets in baggies labeled, February-March, March and April, according to the best times for planting seeds or starting them for transplants around here. We go a week later than most of southern Missouri because we’re up on the plateau.
Okay, it was mostly busy work, I know, but I am so ready for spring, I can taste it. With all the snow and rain having soaked through that big layer of straw and other organics into the soil beneath, I should be able to rake some of it aside and get the early vegetables in, that first week of March – even if I have to keep them covered with a light layer of straw until they begin to sprout and take hold.
Yes, that means my life is pathetically bereft of those activities other people might find more exciting. So, call me an old fuddy-duddy, if you must, but I can’t wait to get started. I love the crumbly feel and molding smell of good soil, thrill at the budding green of those first sprouts creeping up through it, am ecstatic at the warmth of the spring sun on my back as I crawl around the garden, keeping an eye on them until they are hardened and hearty – a little more straw here; a little less straw there. And with my center of gravity that near the ground, I don’t even mind a brisk March wind.
Right now, the yards surrounding the house are mostly yellow-brown and windswept. But hiding underneath the browned, dead grass is a quilt work of green – tufts of new grass, small patches of clover, a couple of brave plantain, (I think,) and the fresh green of new dandelion rosettes. Under the leafless Japanese maple by the front porch, the crocus will soon open. Can the henbit be far behind? Will the creeping Charlie follow, this year? When will I see the dreaded leaves of the ragweed? And will I be fast enough, as it shoots up, to stop its forming a patch on the north side of the house like it did last year, precipitating an asthma attack last fall, as I chased the cat through it without realizing what it was? That’s quite enough excitement and adventure for this old gal.
April is usually warmer, rainy, with less wind. May, with early rains, is all green grass and sublime blue skies as it moves toward summer. I love them, but as February ends, it is that widening of nature’s growing palette I covet most – new and greening life takes hold; trees bud and – toward April – leaf, or blossom in pinks and whites; crocus give way to jonquils and tulips; cardinals come out of their hidey-holes in the yew tree at the back of the house to sing their love songs. The ground-covering weeds, with their tiny, multicolored flowers, begin their green, tumbling late March spread. After winter’s bleached out skies and barren trees, I hunger for March color.
Next week, I’ll collect the cut-down soda bottles and wash them. The following week, I’ll buy a bag of potting soil, the week after that, plant the seeds I’ll transplant to the garden in May. And slowly, over spring, I’ll shed my winter skin of sweats and jackets and caps and coats for my summer skin of shorts and cut-offs and tees.
Woohoo! It’s almost time to tuck winter away for another year; it’s almost time to bring out spring.