Outside the beginnings of spring are starting to show. I walk around studying what little growth there is obsessively, over and over, hoping to see one more rosette of hairy bittercress, or another teeny tiny sheep sorrel stunted by the snow. The purple dead nettle is quite prodigious, and, though tired looking, it covers a lot of ground. The chives in weather-scarred terra cotta pots are getting greener everyday, even though snow buries them every week. There are a few collard plants left that start to get green then go ghostly; I feel it would be too much to even take a leaf they have so few to share.
There are so many bright spots in the bleak winter landscape: small sedum buds poking out of last year’s gray leaves, fuzzy silver maple blossoms, and the fat buds on the jostaberry, just a few with a sliver of green showing. I pull back the straw that covers the rhubarb to find dots of fuchsia in the black dirt. The garlic’s green sprouts are up a few inches high, no shallots yet though. And as I study the spots where the ramps are planted, I notice one lone ramp shoot, a good two inches out of the ground. They are planted right under the pussy willow, whose fuzzy silver catkins are out as well.
Last week’s storm brought heavy wet snow that seemed to freeze solid the night it fell. The soft alder bushes that line the pond–the day before their catkins were soft and about to bloom–had bent fully, their 12-foot high leggy branches now down to the ground. The snow froze them into supplication, and days later they still bow held in the ice’s grip. They know it’s always better to bend than to break.
Everything is swelling, but everything is kept in check by the last lashings of winter that pull us back each week. One day out in a t-shirt, the next day shoveling a foot of snow. This week the snow is melting off, only to be replaced by another storm due on Tuesday night. It wears on you: the push and the pull, the hope versus the desire to give up. It’s a tough time of year for sure, and the only thing you can do is sit with it and ride it out. Don’t give up, just give in.