How did that happen? I thought the solstices always occurred on the 21st – March, June, September and December. Today is only the 20th and I read in the paper the equinox was last night at 9 pm or thereabouts. What the devil?! Not only does Daylight Savings Time mess with our wake-ups, now the doggone calendar is pulling a fast one. Whatever. I know for a fact it’s definitely not spring-anything here in interior Alaska. As a matter of fact, it SNOWED this morning. So there. Not spring, still winter.
Over the weekend we carved out paths (from memory) in the garden with the snowblower. I intended to go outside this week in my shirtsleeves and shovel off the remaining two feet of snow covering the beds so the sun could at least begin to warm the dirt or earth or whatever poetic phrase it wants to use to get the job done. If the gravel paths are exposed and warm up, then the love should spread to the raised beds and voila! winter will be fooled into leaving early. Nope. Winter is still a step ahead of us and taking up all the space necessary to spread the…well, I’m not a hater. I’ve always enjoyed winter and cold weather. It’s generally preferable to plagues of mosquitos and sunburns, however, there is that tiny stretch between the end of winter and the indulgence of believing spring is only minutes away when there are no bugs, there is more visible dirt than snow, and you might actually think you felt a bead of sweat when you leaned on your rake. I chose rake because it’s obviously a true warm-weather tool, unlike shovel which could be used for snow or dirt. All wishful thinking aside and tongue removed from cheek, I’ve never been one to hurry spring into residence for one simple reason: I do not like mud.
I don’t care if the snow lingers as long as it evaporates into the air rather than soaking into the dirt. That makes mud. I don’t care if the riverbank is grassy or stony, as long as I don’t sink over my boot tops and get stuck in a quagmire of goopy muck. Bugs thrive in mud. Why, I don’t know, because it sure makes a good mask to keep them from eating on you. That’s the only good thing about mud, that and it makes a decent brick if you feel like sculpting.
I have a box of seed packets sitting on my table in the sun. They’re so placed so they’ll feel the sun and be warmed, be fooled into readiness for planting and sprouting. I’m putting off the actual deed of starting the process until I see more gravel than snow in my garden, whether by my hand or God’s, because then I’m fairly well-assured that little seedlings will not outgrow their flats and cause me panic because there’s still snow on the ground preventing me from actually planting them. No sir, I will not succumb to that trick. I will, though, continue to watch the sun come up in the morning and listen to the drip as the ice melts from my deck. Once the thermometer reaches the halfway mark between zero and freezing and stays there for a week or so, I’ll get to work on seeds and dirt. Til then, the first frost-free day is only an illusion.