Looking Forward to Spring

It’s been a week since the blizzard, when we received over eighteen inches of snow on top of snow we already had. Despite the piles of hardened grayish lumps of ice that now line all the streets in town, I have thoroughly enjoyed the snow this winter in all its variety–from the large flakes drifting slowly from the sky and then floating around on air currents to the tiny driving flakes that fell so fast it looked like dense fog through the windows.

It’s still cold and snow still covers the ground, but I miss the fresh-fallen snow, the way it smooths out rough edges and looks like thick creamy frosting. I miss the deep-down quiet when no cars are moving in the streets, and I miss the sparkle of light as birds fly down to the feeder, tossing snow off the deck. The first big snow  weighed down the branches of the cedar trees like a child’s drawing of winter. The last snow showed us the shape of the wind.

Coneflowers in the snow

Even with all this snow, some mornings as we are leaving for work, the birds are singing of spring, and I know it’s time for me to think about starting seeds.  Unfortunately, I never did clear out the garden last fall, and it has something of the look of an abandoned lot, with dead tomato vines leaning against their cages, a dried-up moonflower vine with dozens of prickly seed pods, and a single stalk of chard standing sentinel in the square-foot garden. Where the neighbor’s lawn is a smooth unbroken expanse of snow, my yard is lumpy with dried perennials sticking out here and there: blackeyed Susans, coneflowers, asters–all gone to seed. One day we woke to find deer and squirrel tracks all through the yard, the birdfeeder knocked to the ground, and sunflower seeds dumped in a heap beneath the shepherd’s crook.

Every year I tell myself I’m going to do better this time and keep up with the weeding and maintenance in the gardens, but then summer arrives and I get busy, or it’s too hot, or I just can’t bear to pull up the tender green shoots that might or might not be weeds, or I decide I really like the “natural” look and just let seeds grow where they land. Right now I am picturing a large clump of six-foot-tall sunflowers emerging from the middle of the yard where the bird feeder fell, their bright yellow faces turning to follow the sun as it moves across the yard each day.


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