Solar Tracking

Solar Tracking
How low can you go? Snow and ice and cancelled school.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Snowdrops, etc


It’s hard to adjust, sometimes, to “winter” in Oregon. It is damp for months, but it is rarely cold or snowy .The dank season is brief, with a long slow spring that lasts well into June. I’m already tracking spring signs….

Positives first. We saw the first snowdrops today. There are two in the front yard and a whole line of them down the street, where they always bloom at least a week ahead of everyone else. The hazelnuts have been blooming for a week or so, too, but they are hard to see—a bright magenta flower at the top of the ever stretching catkins, but it is tiny. I didn’t even see them for years, until I was out pruning one sunny afternoon and ran into them (literally). The leaf mulch is also developing mysterious bulges and bumps in the garden beds, where the bulbs are pushing up. I moved some aside yesterday and the sprouts are beginning to green up and breathe. Some sprouts will push through the mulch, spear it, and bloom around the crusty brown leaf. In the woods, the mosses are unbelievably plump and bright, full of rainwater. Mark and I count the different mosses on a tree; we find at least four distinct species on each tree, and it changes depending upon the tree. Lichens have also turned green-ish, rather than grey. The winter woods glow in the late afternoon.

In the house, I’ve been rummaging through seed catalogs, considering tomatoes and beans, limiting the number of flowers I’ll order, focusing on food. We still have milk crates full of potatoes, although one variety has begun to sprout, so we’ve been eating down on them, making potato bread and soup. The canning shelves are still full of dried fruit, and roasted tomatoes, salsa and chutney and jam, but there are gaps now. We’ve eaten most of the peach chutney…I’ve baked all but two large squashes—one of which is so huge that I’m not sure what to do with it! I’ll be whacking it up in a few weeks….

Of course, there are the other signs of late winter/early spring. The yard is all mud, especially in the front, under the fig tree. Everyone has mud. The idiots who have been parking on the grass nearby have created huge gouges in the soil, which fill up with water, forcing them to park further down on the grass. The world looks sort of trashy. Moss is growing on everything, including the Ark. The basement is wet from the saturated soil, water pushing up through the cracks. I have to watch where I step in slippers. The back hall is constantly messy from mud and shoes drying out. There are cat prints running from the back door straight into the bedroom and onto the pillows, where they finally wash their feet. The house feels small.

But the air has changed. The snowdrops are blooming. We have turned a corner and soon, the days will really be a little longer. Early spring has begun.

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