Spring has Leapt into Action

Today is officially the first day of Spring. It seems hard to believe, given the fact that we have record-breaking warmth in the northeast. The progress of my garden is way ahead of schedule. I have been wearing shorts and t-shirts outside lately, which is normally something only high school students do in March.  I spent the weekend raking off my flower beds. 

Typically I would have waited until April, but when the plants are growing at such speedy rates, it is best to keep up with them. 

The Ides of March is when a big winter storm usually hits this area, but our evening lows have been warmer than our average highs and no storms have been on the radar for days. I surfed the web for a last possible ski run but everything seems to be shutting down for the season- the winter that wasn’t. It was bad news for all the ski resorts, hotels, restaurants and businesses that rely on snow for their livelihood. However, as much as I  try to embrace winter activities, I am ready to turn in my skis for my gardening gloves.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, we should not sow annuals until mid- May. My green thumb is itching to get started, though.  I was so excited when I saw these beautiful pansies for $.99/each, that I immediately grabbed some for the deck.    I don’t care if they freeze; I am in the mood for flowers!

At the risk of jumping in before frosty evenings are officially past, my husband grabbed some seed packets for hardy greens: lettuces, spinach, parsley, bok choy and arugula.  

We have a protective cold frame where he plans to start things early. If we have a setback, who cares? The excitement of getting an early crop of Spring salad far outweighs the hassle of starting over.

We uncovered our deck furniture, which had been sitting under a tarp all winter. Since our unofficial snowfall for the season was about a foot, it turns out it wasn’t really necessary.  We set up the volleyball net and practiced our bumping and setting skills in anticipation of some family games. 

Later my husband put away the snowblower, which never got used this year, and tuned up the lawnmower. The grass is already turning bright green and will probably require mowing soon.

In celebration of his birthday, my husband bought a Weber grill. On Saturday he initiated it with our first barbecue of the season. He smoked ribs and sausages slow cooker style, which meant we could smell the tantalizing aromas all afternoon while we worked in the yard.  

Later that afternoon, we had friends over for a drink and he got to show off his shiny new gadget.

I spotted the first crocus of the season on Sunday and today my daffodils have begun to bloom!  

My forsythia has rebloomed despite its confusion in December and the leaves on my bushes are starting to pop out.

When I was walking the dogs, we passed a swampy area where the Spring Peepers were loudly chirping away. I usually don’t hear them until April, but they were already forming a raucous chorus to greet the season. Spring has not just sprung; it has leapt into action!

When I taught preschool, we usually spent the month of March comparing “Lion” and “Lamb”days. According to the proverb, nice weather is like a gentle lamb and indicates spring is coming. Stormy weather is like a lion and is winter’s way of saying it will not go away yet. If I were counting days with my class this month, I think we would be hard pressed to find one we could call a lion. With 11 days to go, I hope we don’t see him make a big comeback at the end.

Plants wrapped in 6 mm (0.2 in) of ice. Severe...

Plants wrapped in 6 mm (0.2 in) of ice. Severe ice storms, which may occur in the spring, can kill plant life. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ski Lessons

seen from diagonally behind the skier

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I wrote about the bonding experience my family had during our hotel stay. The reason we were there was to spend the weekend skiing. [In an earlier post I talked about our plans for some fun winter activities.  see entry for 11/11/11]. We had chosen two smaller resorts, which would be less popular for people from our area, decreasing the likelihood of encountering anyone we knew. Teenagers seem to have a sensitive radar detector which makes them believe that everyone notices everything they do. Skiing turned out to be a way to take some risks and handle embarrassments calmly.

My son and I started out first. We had seasonal rentals and were able to get on the slopes while my daughter and husband were fitted for their gear. Right away we had our first mishap. As we boarded the chair lift, his ski popped off. The attendant stopped the lift and retrieved his ski. Unfortunately, he had to carry the ski during the ride and was destined to fall when he got off. He took it in stride and we set out. We had only taken the first descent when his ski detached again. We spent 5 minutes trying to get it back on, clearing snow out of the binding or trying to find flatter ground to stop on. All the while, he kept insisting that it was broken. I finally conceded he was right and we took our skis off, trudging up the steep hill back to the lift.
No attendants were available to help us. I began to get frustrated. What if we had an actual emergency? Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to come to such a small mountain if there wasn’t a safety patrol around. You can see where my mind was going… Finally a fellow skier noticed us and offered his assistance. He fiddled with the ski binding and then pointed out that my son’s boots had too much snow stuck to the sole. He helped clear them off and got the boot secured into the binding. I thanked him for his help and he kindly pointed out that there were easier trails we could ski from the other chairlift.
We got down to the bottom without further incident, but my son was in a bad mood. He felt humiliated that he needed to be helped by a stranger, who then must have thought he didn’t know how to ski. He became very grumpy and wanted to leave. Just then I spotted my husband and daughter heading toward the lower lift. We caught up to them and got in line. The kids decided to ride up together. I assume they shared stories about their experience so far. My husband and I observed them chatting and smiling from our chair behind them. By the time we got to the top, my son was in a much better mood and was eager to help his sister ski. He encouraged her to follow him, making sure to ski slowly, taking wide turns back and forth demonstrating good form and control.

Having her brother as a model was good for my daughter. She had been very nervous about downhill skiing. Even though she has good balance and used to ski steep, curvy trails on cross country skis she lacked the confidence to do the same in this new sport. Everyone was willing to accommodate her by starting on the green (easy) trails. We stopped often, offering words of encouragement and some tips to improve her skills. Within a few runs, she had switched from snow plowing to slalom style and was able to stop hockey style. At that point we tried to convince her that she would be able to ski the blue (intermediate) trails. Brother was eager to move on to harder terrain, but said he preferred skiing together rather than going off with me again. (I think he was still embarrassed to run into someone who had witnessed us on the other hill). For me, the important part was being together and having fun- as long as it wasn’t the “bunny” hill. We were able to do a blue trail for our last run of the day, leaving everyone happy and looking forward to another opportunity to ski on Monday.

On Monday, we drove to a different resort which had a quadruple chair. We spent the entire time skiing together. There was a very long green trail, which wound its way down from the summit. After a few times, Sister was feeling confident enough to take some blue trails. We praised her on how much she had improved. She actually seemed to be having fun! At one point, as I was winding my way downhill, she came flying past me. She appeared to have good form, but was going much faster than I would have expected. Seconds later she fell when she hit a mogul. She got up and brushed herself off quickly. I pointed out that it was actually a good sign that she had fallen because it meant she was getting more comfortable with herself and more willing to take some risks. Before I knew it, she was off again following her brother down the trail.

As I watched them ski together, I got all happy inside. This is what an ideal family winter activity should be. I couldn’t wish for anything more wonderful!