February 17, 2011

A decidedly un-Februaryesque day today, warming into the 60’s, but still not a day of complete satisfaction – there is no sunshine.

I open the window in my office, letting in fresh air for the first time in months. One would think that today would smell of spring but it does not. I go outside to breathe deeply and make sure.

Dirt, dirt and dirt everywhere. Last year’s foliage is matted and slimy on the ground, the ridges on what’s left of the snow are picked out with some kind of soot. The rain barrel spout is on the ground, feet away from the barrel. Containers throughout the garden are tilted, drunken pots staggering through the garden. Seed from the cardboard feeders pocks the ground around the groovy bench. The pond is low, even with all the melting snow.

There is the sound of running water, rushing, trickling, melting, ebbing away. Quiet Neighbor’s yard is flooded and Fenced-In Neighbor is too. Our berm, with its piles of soil, yards of hidden roots and layers of mulch, holds the water back, out of our yard. The stream runs behind the berm, through drainpipe and above drainpipe, to the sewer at the edge of the fence. I check to make sure there is no obstructions and see that it is indeed running quickly. There is just so very much to wick away.

The pumpkins, recently crushed by drifts of snow, are well and truly smashed. They are flat, like air let out of a balloon, like a cartoon roadkill. Strangely, the stems are still sticking straight up into the air. I can’t help but laugh at the picture they present.

I hear a cardinal calling.

In the front, I find Christmas light hangers amongst the crushed peonies. The grids are flattened, taking the peony stems and leaves right along with them. I pick up the top of the black rain barrel and replace it, getting snow in the holes of Tony’s crocs, chilling my toes.

The spinach in the veggie garden is still green, still crisp and looks still edible, even after it has been frozen, covered with snow and frozen again. “Hardy” seems to be a gross underrepresentation of its temperature tolerance.

I take another breath. Nope – not a whiff of real spring yet, even though the cardinal continues his song. That smell is more than warmth for just one day. That smell comes from insects and worms moving again, from soil breaking and turning with new growth. And from sunshine, sunshine, sunshine.


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