“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ~Charles Dickens
By early March, my spirit yearns for warmth, color, the earth reborn…A flush of green tinges the meadow, a hopeful sign. I’ve started seeds in the greenhouse and, to my delight, most are coming up. Baby violas are potted in readiness, with the promise of more diminutive pansies to follow. Flats of sweet alyssum will go out among the earliest flowers to perfume the air and attract pollinators. Spinach and cabbage seedlings await transplanting. Parsley is showing its face. I’ll seed more herbs and vegetables soon, like heirloom lettuce, basil, sweet peppers, and tomatoes. And flowers–always. I may even start peas indoors this year because our soil is so wet they may rot otherwise.
We’ve had a drenched winter after last year’s drought, and the weather shows no indication of letting up. No one wants a drought again, just ‘normal’ weather. Daughter Elise and I are sorting through seed packets from last year and carefully ordering more. The greenhouse will soon burst with new life.
“Every spring is the only spring — a perpetual astonishment.” ~Ellis Peters
In the garden, I greet tiny pendulous snowdrops, an old friend. These delicate bulbs are tough as nails. The spreading mounds began from a handful of bulbs daughter Alison planted as a small child. Our much-loved pussywillow was son Cory’s choice as a wee lad. Fuzzy catkins line its branches like the tiny kittens the pussywillow is named for. Daffodils, tulips, and the green points of crocus leaves are emerging. I plant more bulbs each fall. Discovering them is like an Easter egg hunt. The faithful snow crocus made its appearance yesterday. ‘Tis my dream to have masses of crocus everywhere, filling the yard. How splendid that would be. A great trumpet of spring.
“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.” ~Proverb
“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.” ~Ruth Stout
Why, some of you may ask, am I so drawn to gardening? Granted, toiling in the earth has its downsides, like the aching back I will soon be complaining of, the chewing bugs, and inevitable weather affronts, but nothing is more uplifting to the spirit than a fair day in and among growing things. The joyous sights of new life returning to our beautiful valley after a long winter, the delectable scents and sounds…the trill of a meadowlark, the song sparrow singing overhead as I plant seeds in the crumbly brown ground…the swoop and soaring of the first butterfly…the pussy willow bursting with fuzzy catkins…the glowing crocus. Snow still obscures the landscape and cold wind nips my face, but the forecast promises better days and I shall soon be out sniffing the air with profound appreciation. The barnyard geese are fussy. Egg laying shall commence.
The delights of spring are almost upon us. There’s always a moment that catches and holds me transfixed, and in that moment, all is perfect. All is lovely. My piece of heaven on earth.~
***Images of crocus from last year and spring in the valley taken by my mom in past years.
Spring is when the meadowlark sings and I heard one in the field across the road from our farm this morning while out walking the dogs. I stopped and listened closely to be certain I’d heard right. Yep, three more unmistakable trills floated on the cold air. In full-blown spring, those sweet calls resound from various places in our meadow and the neighbor’s. Tracking down the elusive songster is almost like trying to catch a leprechaun. Getting a photograph of a meadowlark has long been a goal of mine and daughter Elise’s. We have yet to succeed. Still, hope, like spring, reigns eternal. Yes, we have snow and more biting temps in the forecast, but the barnyard geese are getting fussy and pairing off, our earliest indication of the renewal of the earth, and now the meadowlark has proclaimed the end of a brutal winter is in sight. (*Image of meadowlark I purchased)
The dogs and I tramped the yard to survey my dormant flower beds. I wonder how many plants will return after the frigid cold that engulfed the Shenandoah Valley these past weeks. The vegetable garden should be sporting the promise of a glorious cover crop of crimson clover, but the seedlings I knocked myself out to establish last fall are conspicuous by their absence. I will try again next fall. Over the weekend, Elise and I poured over seed catalogs and sent off several orders. I plan to start seeds in my little greenhouse later this month or the first of March. It’s solar, without an alternate heat source, so not much point in starting anything before then. If we really want it going all winter, we will have to install some kind of heat. As it is, the greenhouse is frozen out, so any bugs and diseases that might have lingered from last year are well and truly zapped. One advantage of a severe cold snap.
(*Nesting geese from last spring. Image by my husband, Dennis)
Another early sign of spring is the pussy willow in the back garden. Fuzzy grey buds are beginning to swell. Last year, I planted several pussy willows I’d rooted from cuttings down by the pond. I ought to trek over there and see if any of them made it. I’ll report back, and, if they didn’t, I shall persevere. (*Image of pussy willow by the old red barn from last spring by Elise)