On preparing for spring. Hahahahaha.

They say it’s spring now.  I say: we have double-digit negatives most nights this week.  They say spring is coming.  I say: we have to get through mud season first, and we’re a far cry from the kind of thaw that entails.  Basically, I’m a cynic.  It’s seasonal.  It’s Maine. It’s Vitamin D deficiency.  Whatever.

I did, however, replace a broken shop-light today so that I can start my third and fourth flats of seeds in the basement.  My onions, leeks, brussels sprouts, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are all going strong.  (Trying cinnamon sprinkled on the soil surface this year to fight the damping-off I’ve struggled with the past two years…Have you tried that?  Is it a myth?)  I’m fired up about the parsley, the new lavender, the zinnias, the basil.  So, in essence, I’m ready for the theoretical reality of spring’s approach, but in my heart of hearts, I believe we’re stuck in sleet-land forever.

It’s this way on all fronts sometimes: you have a nice morning with one son, and that afternoon the second one pukes all over.  You book a fun new consulting gig only to learn that issues of responsiveness might be a drag.  You foolishly sign up to run a training session for a board you serve on, then find someone awesome to run it for you, and then find your leadership partners are reluctant to bring in someone else, which was the whole idea in the first place.  GET WITH THE PROGRAM, WORLD.  Enough puking and dragging-of-feet.  Let’s make some plans and get ’em done.

So I’ve got my graph paper out for the garden, and all my gorgeous books on potager designs; I’ve got a new necklace and a new lipstick for when the consulting gets its act together; I’m getting VERY CLEAR with my board partners about the limits of my available time for volunteer program design and delivery.  It might still be winter, or even mud season, in the spirit of the world, but I’m heading for the bright lights of summer.  Are you with me?


On spring

It’s here!  It’s here!  This week we shall see the exact moment that is most exciting in any given year: when the sequence of things blooming or otherwise demanding to be noticed gets so full, so overlapping, so abundant that I lose track.  There are grape hyacinths coming up in the nursery bed (which year by year cedes more biodiversity to campanula glomerata — otherwise a rather well-behaved plant, it seems dangerously happy here); daffodils nearing peak by the driveway; crocuses fully gone by in front of the about-to-burst hyacinth.  The forsythia has announced itself; the red maple casts its glorious, ineffable scent over the landscape.  The columbine stands inches tall, fists of bright deep green unfurling into scallopy bunches.  The lilac is pretending it hasn’t noticed all this warm weather, still grey and bony against the sky, but we know its little ways.

I’m in my annual emotional tug-of-war with the vegetable garden: I’ve waited too long, but it was cold and wet, so perhaps it’s okay…but why didn’t I use that time to add soil amendments?  (There are answers, perfectly good ones, but that would defeat the purpose of this little conversation.)  There are broccoli and cauliflower seedlings in, and brussels sprouts and teeny little Gonzalez cabbages.  The garlic was in from last year, and now leeks, onions, and shallots are in there too.  A little parsley (so much self-sows that I rarely start fresh), a little sorrel (less every year because I tire of its bullying), and too much tarragon (because really, who needs a cubic yard of it?  But there it is, and I can’t give it away fast enough).  But my spring greens!  It’s almost too late!  Thank god I got the peas in last weekend or I’d be out there in the dark now (like some people I know).  Desperate times, desperate measures.

I discovered today the severed head of a broccoli seedling, next to some decent-sized holes with sad little pea seeds around their edges.  I’m seriously contemplating asking neighbors with dogs to walk them around our lawn to discourage whatever hideous beast is eating things out there.  I’ve never really had to contend with pests, and it now seems clear that’s because I always had large brown dogs wandering the property.  And I can’t seem to stoop to repellents, because paying for canine urine after all those years of dog-ownership, well, it just seems odd.  But I should take some steps before I lose my equanimity and become someone we’d all rather avoid.

And you?  How is your garden this spring?


On Nemo, of course


It’s not like we can write about anything else today.  At least, not those of us who live in the 3-foot zone.  But it does help to remember a few things:

1. This is one of the few winters where a storm like this wouldn’t make it impossible to see out our driveway.  Some years, it’s been like a cavern, with snow banks eight feet high on either side.  This, all things considered, is not all that severe.

2. We haven’t lost power!  Hurrah!  Celebrations!  Naturally, I kept expecting us to, so we had the woodstove on all night (including a 2:30 am run to reboot).  And then we had to do some emergency baking — Mimi’s German Apple Cake, from Rustic Fruit Desserts (the best such cookbook I’ve found).  These are not awful things.

3. Kind neighbors are glorious: one such just snowblowed (snowblew?) out the worst of our four- and five-foot drifts.  I heap blessings upon him and his family.

4. There were brownies.  From the day before.  All chewy.  And Len was too sick to really compete for them (yes, I will make this up to him, but for Nemo, well, it was what it was).

5. The beauty of all this snow is astonishing, and if you catch me at the right moment, I am even capable of seeing that.  Witness.

6. And we are, after all, heading inexorably toward spring.  See?

Bulbs in pot