Sunday, January 12, 2014

Phantom spring

The last few months have been relentlessly cold. With that cold comes the spare beauty of frosted branches. The chickadees fluff their feathers, insulation against the wind. The wild turkeys come into the barnyard for grain. Fox venture down our driveway. In the stark white landscape, three deer stand out against the woods across the field. Life is tenuous in the cold. We keep the bird feeders full. Dave checks the chickens and sheep and goats when he feeds them, judging the cold by how much hay or grain they’ve eaten since the day before. We worry about the drain field freezing. Our wood supply is dwindling faster than normal.

Having said all that, I love winter. Days like today, with the sun shining and snow sparkling, I wish winter could go on for ever. Winter is proof that we are strong people, able to withstand adversity. Today, winter is teasing us. The temperature was 33 degrees above zero this morning when we woke. The breeze feels almost warm on my face. Dave ordered garden seeds and apple trees. The lettuce in the green house is growing again. The days are noticeably longer. I could almost believe that spring is nearly here.

And yet, the snow is still deep. The ice on the lakes is strong. The ground hog hasn’t even rolled over in his nest
under-ground, much less opened his eyes. I know that the temperature could just as easily drop to 33 below as stay at 33 above. Even if the ground hog sees his shadow in two weeks, dooming us to six more weeks of winter, just the hint of warmth gives us hope. This may be a phantom spring, but the real spring will come.

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