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)

January Fog

Mother Nature is certainly playing some cruel tricks on Old Man Winter this year. Last weekend, we received a layer of delightfully fluffy snow. Not a lot, but enough to encourage snowmen and sledding in the neighborhood. The outdoor skating rink had finally opened and the cold spell had strengthened the ice enough for hockey.

Yesterday all that changed. The rain came through, followed by 40 degree weather. Today I awoke to a curtain of fog shrouding the road and camouflouging the trees. No wonder we are all in a haze. Even the Canada Geese can’t decide whether to stay or go. First they headed south, albeit a few weeks late, on their annual migration. Less than a month later, they returned for an early spring. When the cold snap hit again, I heard them all fly away toward the warmer climate. I won’t be surprised if they come back soon, depending if this warm spell lasts.

Usually I anticipate the January thaw. But that is only after at least a month of cold weather and several snow storms. This year it is like winter didn’t even happen.    Now all that is left of last weekend’s snowfall are a few piles from melted snowmen

and some puddles.

All this flip flopping drives me crazy! Do I need my snow boots or my mud boots? My hat and gloves, or just a scarf? My winter coat or my fleece? At least I have options, unlike the birds whose only alternative is to travel back and forth to keep warm.

  Can they even find their way through this fog?

Snow Day…almost

Every kid lives for snow days. When the weather forecast calls for snow or ice, certain rituals need to be performed to bring on the snow. Wearing pajamas inside out, making snow angels under your sheets, putting a pair of mittens under your pillow. Even my teenagers follow some of these practices. Hey, you never know- they just might work.

Yesterday afternoon was sunny and in the 30’s. A beautiful time to be out walking,  admiring the green ferns and moss valiantly growing in the middle of January. My husband was so proud to still be harvesting brussels sprouts for dinner!  How a few hours changes everything…

In the middle of the night, the freezing rain hit followed by an inch or so of snow.  It wasn’t enough to close school, but I did get a text alert that school was delayed 2 hours. Not exactly a snow day, but when I went into my kids’ bedrooms with the news, I heard some mumbled cheers from them before they rolled over and went back to sleep.  My neighbor’s elementary school children, however,  didn’t waste any time getting outside in the snow.  I think if it hadn’t been raining, they would have played for an hour. Oh the excitement of snow- especially when it is enough to delay school!

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Winter Solstice is on Thursday. The signs of the season are here; well, except for the snow. I was out walking in the cold, reflecting on how different everything looks without the beautiful and protective covering of the deciduous foliage. The trees are bare. Their long spiky branches and limbs reach up to the sky, creating a diffused pattern to the sunlight that penetrates the now wide-open canopy. The underbrush are bare as well and the grasses and ferns have shrivelled and dried. It is possible to see things that were previously camouflaged by the plants. Some are hidden gems that only now are revealed, like the elusive birds’ nests. But others reveal the damage done by some of the violent storms this summer. And then there are the grotesque reminders of how wasteful and callous humans can be, casually tossing trash into the woods. I brought my camera along to point out the good, the bad and the ugly.

First the Good.   The cold weather has caused ice crystals to form, creating a more protective covering of the low lying wetlands where the Spring Peepers’ eggs lie dormant until April.

I figured out where the Blue Jays and Crows were hiding out all summer.

Now the Bad.

This closer examination of the woods, allowed me to see how much damage had been done by recent stormy weather.

Broken limbs from Tropical Storm Irene

And finally, The Ugly. 

Marlboros, Anyone?

Need a spare tire?