I’ve taken to sitting in the window seat in the mornings as the sky pinks with dawn. At hand are coffee, a notebook and my favorite pen, but mostly I sip and watch the birds at the suet feeder. At first the wire cage fell to the ground almost daily, its flimsy chain no match for the weighty red-shafted flickers that will soon wake us each morning with their jungle calls and rat-a-tatting on cottonwoods, gutters, and metal chimney flashing. Finally, we attached an aluminum carabiner as a hanger and have had no problems since. It’s inelegant but effective. That’s okay. I often feel the same way.
The blue jays are a hefty bunch, too, but more rare and surprisingly more polite. A pair of downy woodpeckers visit daily. She is smaller, duller, while his spring plumage is beginning to sharpen up all sexy. Black-capped chickadees wing in between wrens and shiny black cowbirds. Bright-eyed juncos hop and peck on the ground beneath, cleaning up bits dropped from the feeder. I’ve seen robins and mourning doves all winter, but none at the feeder so far.
Last fall I didn’t get to as much of the yard clean up as I would have liked. This was partly due to early snow, and partly to a book deadline. There are, however, always deadlines now. I have one looming shortly. So, as with other big projects, I’ve learned to pick away at the yard work when the weather is nice. Today we are expecting temps in the sixties, and I’ll likely spend an hour pruning the grapes and cutting back grasses before my writing group arrives for dinner this evening.
Yesterday I cleaned out one of the backyard landscape beds, and found the crocus bulbs I’d thrown willy nilly into the ground last spring survived the summer – and the winter – and are bravely poking their green spikes up now. Further exploration revealed fresh buds on the roses, red tulips pushing through mulch, and the green beginnings of hyssop, poppy, and iris.
Spring is indeed right around the corner.
It’s been a bit of a luxury, focusing on writing and developing workshops, playing with new projects and getting ready for my 2012 releases. In the fall I’m so busy “putting up” the garden that winter feels almost lazy in comparison as we delve into the stores and spend long afternoons working while something bubbles away in the kitchen. But the seed catalogs are arriving, and I can’t help but think of readying soil and planting for the new season. At the [slow] rate I’m going each vegetable bed will be ready just as it’s needed.
Early to mid-April will see beets, onions, leeks, radishes, lettuces, kale, chard, carrots, spinach, and cilantro seeds poked into the soil. Soon after, starts for broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower will begin to fill things out. I have hopes but not expectation for the asparagus bed I planted two years ago – with three-year-old rootstock. Last year it didn’t seem to thrive despite a relatively mild winter before and plenty of mulch. So just crossing my fingers and waiting.
It’s not spring fever yet, mind you, but I know that’s on the way. My afternoon walks are still often lit by watery, oblique winter light, and the skies still regularly glower with the threat of snow. March is supposedly the snowiest month in these climes, but it’s hard to tell anymore. Climes, they are a changin’.
So we’ll see, eh?