It is somewhat amazing to me to think back two springs, to March 2013, and to realize the soil had not merely thawed, but dried enough to allow me to plant peas at this time. Now I look out across a garden that could well be a landscape at the Pole, except for the few objects that poke up.
2013 was an unusually early spring, and (as I recall) it later got colder, and I couldn’t be in such a hurry to plant the more tender crops, such as tomatoes or squash. However peas are tough, and several times I’ve planted them even as snow swirled. (One of these years I’m going to try out planting them in the fall, to see if they notice the difference.) Planting peas tends to result in red, chapped and raw hands, but there is a joy in being able to get the planting started. There is also a wonderful moderation of ambition, the next morning, when muscles ache. Some of the more grandiose plans for giant gardens become more modest, once muscles are allowed to voice their views.
This spring there has been little of that moderation, so far, and my middle son, eldest daughter and wife are coming up with some gardening ideas that make my head spin a little. I blame the snow, which still stretches over the garden like a blank sheet of paper.
A blank sheet of paper holds the promise of great things; poetry to rival Shakespeare. It’s when you start to write, and the paper isn’t pure white any more, that you see less great things.
Of course, I’m just an old geezer who has less ambition than I had when younger, especially as I’m struggling to get over a nasty cold that sunk down into my lungs and had me wondering if this might be the spring I won’t see. It is likely best if I keep my mouth shut about a lot of the ambitions others have, because there is nothing worse than a wet blanket who smothers others fire.
Anyway, when I look back over my life a lot of the fun was due to attempting things that failed. Afterwards not everyone points at you and laughs, “Loser! HAHAHAHA!” There are a few who quietly tell you. “At least you had the guts to try.”
The snow is shrinking, as we’ve been in a sort of drought this March. Usually a late spring is due to late snows, and a final pool of arctic air that swings down over New England. I recall one year we had a January so mild people were saying it proved Global Warming was occurring, and then the first week in April was colder than any week in January that year. However this spring we haven’t had a late storm (so far) and in fact the snow has been steadily shrinking under the power of the March sun. We’ve had amazingly cold blasts of arctic air, but the sun keeps shrinking the snow even when it is below freezing. However the snow was so deep to begin with that even though three feet are gone, we still have a foot.
It is a solid foot, too. When the snow was four feet deep is was all fluffy powder, and even snowshoes sank nearly a foot. Snowmobiles tended to bog down if the driver ever slowed. However now the snow is crunchy stuff I can walk across without sinking.
The first day we could walk on the snow the kids at the Childcare were euphoric. For over a month they had been limited, but now they could suddenly run free. My dog had a similar attitude, dashing about in obvious delight, freed from weeks of plunging and wallowing through the deep, white powder.
I have the urge to go on a long hike in the woods, crunching over the snow. I’m going to keep my eyes open for signs of how the animals fared. I’m fairly certain the coyote didn’t fare well. They’d have to go around a month without food, at sub-zero temperatures. There’s no way they could hunt in snow so deep. The foxes also likely suffered. The deer basically live off their body fat, and twigs, and from what I hear they are gaunt but alive. Coyote and foxes can’t live on twigs, however. Perhaps they are the ones who won’t see the spring.
It was down around 10° (-12.2° Celsius) both yesterday morning and this morning, but now a milder spell is due, before the next arctic blast comes down over the weekend.
Even if it only lasts a day, mildness feels like pure ambrosia, this year.
I asked the little children if they’d like a storm with sticky snow, so they could make snowmen, if the snow would all melt away in a day, and they all agreed it was a bad idea, and that they were sick to death of snow. It is time to barbecue.
CORRECTION: The spring I was recalling was actually March, 2012.