How have we fared, since last September? A glorious harvest feast of friendship sustained us through much of the long, cold winter. We reveled in warmth, basking in the glow of well-stacked wood and well-stoked fires. Then, with the new year, our minds turned to seed catalogues and greenhouses and the many, many promises of SPRING!
But Winter wasn't ready yet.
So our wood dwindled, and the deep cold got deeper. Cows called out each afternoon, hungry for more hay. The November-born piglets snuggled, first under a heat lamp and then, as they grew bigger and bolder, next to their mama's restless, bristly bulk. We bought more wood, enough--we thought--to get us through to the fully-expected warmth that would come with February's longer days.
But Winter wasn't ready yet.
So we went into the forest--not once, not twice, but three times and more--to find wood to burn. We bowed before fallen giants and then began to remove their limbs, sawing and hauling all we could. The old Eastern Hop Hornbeam, once a statewide champion for its height and girth and massive green Summer crown, was the first to be divided and dragged. I mourned its lost nobility even as I placed the long-fallen, rot-edged logs onto the sawbuck. I sang its praises as we loaded that wood into the stove when February met March and Winter just dug in deeper, sinking our farmstead into the depths of cold.
And now? Now it is April. Far-flung relatives are posting images of daffodils and magnolias. Here, the sap is running--albeit thinly--in the maple trees, and though I keep watching, there's no sign of green points that will be snowdrops or crocuses just yet. I did spy my first robin this morning, though, so that's something...mostly, though, we sneak into the greenhouse to catch our hints of Spring. There, in the corners, there is soil still frozen hard, but some of the middle beds are graced with the first blue-tinged tiny leaves of the first sprouts of the year: an extra-hardy heirloom variety of kale. Some days, in the afternoons, it actually feels warm in there, warm enough to unzip my jacket and remove my gloves. Tomorrow, they say, it might get into the forties OUTside, but I'll believe it when I feel it. Friday, they say, it will snow again.
Ah, but I'm still the April Fool, here, though optimism comes a little harder after such a long, hard freeze. I know, soon enough, there will be tall grass in the far pastures and I'll be munching on daylilies in the dooryard and swatting at black flies. And, in the meantime, we have wonderful farmhands here to keep us from sinking too far into surliness...AND they've been great at tending our craitures and hauling all those logs out of the woods!
So, this morning, we prepare to plant more seeds. We have the use of another farm's greenhouse, this season, and it sits in a broad open space where it warms faster than ours. Whether or not Winter is ready, WE are ready to pry its fingers off this place. WE are ready to welcome days of green growth under the April sun!
Muses are stirring, too, even if snowdrops are not. Here's a morning offering:
Unseize The Day!
Oh, April Sun-- you ease too slowly over the rim.
You crinkle your quiet eyes at my skin's hunger:
The ache of crystal to relearn water's ways, cell by cell
Until these limbs can flex, sinews unclench
And body bend, all fluid, once again. Please—
Come in! This freezeframed house is too long cold!
Here: I lift the shades, fold fabric's
curves into curtainhooks, opening the way...
The bevelled glass invites your scattershine.
See, Sun? There is nothing to hinder your reach
Into this room (this icy box)! Even my shadowed
spirit has clumsily undone its little locks,
Cramped fingers fumbling with the keys.
Won't you come in, you lovely April Sun?
--copyright MaineCelt, 4/2/14