Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring comes

Winter packed its bag and caught a taxi out of town in the dead of night.  Spring arrived in a torrent of snow-melt and rain, creating a sing-song creek running through the vegetable garden field and a pool in our backward.

You wait and wait for winter to end and then all of a sudden it does and it seems like it never existed.  Winter's taking leave every year is a small reminder of how quick change can occur; the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and continuing revolutions in the Middle East are the same principle writ large.  The precarious nature of life, the possibility of change even when things seem locked in routine; notions both fearful and hopeful.

Water everywhere.  Neighbors say there's been nothing like this in twenty years.  It flows from an underground creek over the stone wall and comes up from an invisible spring in our backyard.  We had planned to plant out our hot-frame (a protected outdoor space for seedlings), but once I started digging it out, it filled with water and when we bailed the water it kept coming in through cracks in the cement wall.  Sometimes the best laid plans can't compete with nature, so we're waiting for the water table to drop and keeping busy with other things.

Now is the time for pruning, before the trees awaken, sap returns up to the limbs and you do too much damage with the cutting.  We pruned the old apple trees in the vegetable garden, taking off the vertical branches that are non-fruiting and cast too much shade and spot-pruning to give the crowded branches below more air, space and sun to make apples.  The tree has not been pruned in twenty years and has grown sick and low-fruiting.  It is amazing that fruit-trees need human help to grow healthy, that our connection is part of the natural order.

We've been waiting for the right window of weather to experiment with "frostseeding" half of the vegetable field with clovers, which we will cut for green-manure rich in nitrogen.  We need a string of freezing nights and warm days, but the snow melted so quickly and soaked the fields and just as they're dry enough it looks like the freezing nights have gone North.  Sometimes, nature gets its way, and that's not a bad thing.

When I went out to the field this morning at dawn to check if the ground was frozen, I scared off a family (or small village) of 11-12 deer enjoying the Spring grass.  Watching them leap effortlessly over the stonewall, I am thinking our deer fence better be plenty tall.

Good-bye wintry nights by the fire, hello Spring.

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