Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 1 - Signs of Spring

March first.

The weather has been tricking us lately, making us think spring is closer than it likely really is. Spring doesn't come early in the mountains.

But with the past week being in the mid-fifties and higher, the snow has been melting so fast we can nearly watch it disappear. What was solid white just two weeks ago is now a brown-green lawn, grass matted flat against the earth from the weight of the months of snow. But even then, you can see little green blades standing tall, reaching toward the sun, trying to keep warm.

The garden is visible now - not entirely thawed, but almost. I hadn't walked through it since the first heavy snow in December. The soil is still soaked from the melted snow, but life can be seen if one looks close enough. The oregano and thyme and parsley are already green and growing, and little cilantro sprouts were tucked in beneath a thin layer of icy slush. The strawberry leaves are lifting themselves from the soil, and the tiniest leaf-buds speckle the apple trees we planted last year. It makes me glad to know they survived the winter. It was a cold one. A row of turnips I never got around to harvesting is still there - turnips now the size of softballs. I wonder if the cow would like one chopped up for a snack.

The animals all know spring is coming, too. The chickens have finally come out of their winter break from laying, and the egg basket on the kitchen counter is filling rapidly after being nearly empty the past several months. The cow and the goats' bellies are round as barrels, all expected to give birth sometime this month. We all daydream in anticipation of baby animals to play with and of fresh milk to drink again. Even the ducks seem to know spring is here, the drakes courting the hens with much enthusiasm. The puppy is permanently muddy up her elbows from all the exploring she has been doing lately, and the horses are happily wandering the hill again, looking for green bits here and there to munch on after having only hay all winter long.

The days are longer now - chores can be done during daylight hours at both morning and night, something I appreciate. I've never loved doing chores in the dark. There was a flock of sixteen robins scattered across the lawn this morning, hopping around looking for bugs in the grass. The dog is scolded each time he chases them away - he still can't understand why we appreciate him chasing away the magpies, but wish he'd leave the robins alone. Last week we saw a pair of bluebirds checking out one of the nesting boxes. Not too much longer, and we'll be able to hear the baby birds tucked deep inside, one of our favorite discoveries each spring.

It's been a long winter. Perhaps not really that long, but it's felt long. It's nice to know it's finally waning, to start dreaming of kid goats and pipping turkey poults and the coming rodeos and haying and harvesting of fresh vegetables....

Of course, it's easy to imagine all of those things, while forgetting just how much impending work must be done to get there.

But no matter. Work, in the spring, doesn't really feel like work!

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