In Minnesota we don’t need Punxsutawney Phil, the famous Pennsylvania groundhog, to tell us there will be six more weeks of winter. I just have to look out the window at the two feet of snow (61 cm) in my garden and a thermometer that says 13F (-10C) and know spring won’t be arriving any time soon. The spring equinox is in six weeks and even after a mild winter it is not unusual for there still to be plenty of snow on the ground at that time. This has not been a mild winter, in fact it has been the coldest winter we’ve had in 20+ years. Astonishingly, as cold as it has been, it doesn’t even make it into the top ten coldest.
But the sun is shining today in a clear blue winter sky and with all the snow on the ground it is ever so bright. It is even bright at night, “snow glow” Bookman and I call it.
Have you noticed the days are getting longer too? (Sorry southern hemisphere folk, your days are sadly growing shorter) It is still dark when I stand waiting for my bus at 6:30 in the morning but rosy-fingered Dawn is arriving just about the time I start my work day. And in the evenings, if it weren’t too cold to take my mittens off, I could comfortably read while waiting for my bus home.
I am tired of the cold, tired of taking ten minutes to bundle up to go outside and then ten minutes once back indoors to get all the gear off and back in its place on coat hooks and book rack. I am tired of wrapping my scarf around my face to protect my skin from frostbite and so I can breathe the frigid air without hurting my lungs. Tired of enduring. Because at this point, that’s what it has become, to me at least.
But the longer days have stirred the embers of hope that I won’t have to endure the cold so very much longer.And then there are all the seeds that I ordered for the veggie garden that have arrived. I look at them and shake the packets now and then. For some reason I find this reassuring, proof that spring is on the way, that it isn’t a cruel joke. Don’t those packets look lovely? In among them is a big bag of white clover seed and 50 feet (15 m) of row cover fabric, my secret weapon against digging squirrels this year.
And in the mail on Saturday came the save the date postcard for the big plant sale in May. The card always has a beautiful photo of a flower on it. This year it is the inside of a red hibiscus. The card is now stuck to the refrigerator with a magnet in a place where Bookman and I can see it while we eat our meals.
Spring might be six weeks or more away and there will still be plenty of sub-zero (-17C) mornings waiting for the bus, but the sun and the seeds tell me it will be here eventually. It will be gratefully welcomed.