It has been a rough winter in the Willamette Valley. We’ve had five days off from school because of ice and snow, spread over a month (havoc to education and planning!), weeks of cloud cover, heavy rain, and just plain dank cold. My students are staring blankly out the windows as another day of rain settles over the hills, blocking the view. We are used to some dark days, but, the weather here is usually more of a soft drizzle, suitable for a hoodie, rather than hard rain. Add in a nasty flu bug, fears of climate change, and concern over the political situation, and there are a lot of anxious, depressed people wandering the halls these days.
Friday, the sun came out. When I came home at four thirty, I wandered into the back yard to insect the flood damage. The back area, under the hazelnut trees was still under water and what ground there was exposed was covered in mud. The raised beds were somewhat dry, however, and I could let the ladies out for a run. They leapt from the edge of the coop, flapping their wings joyfully as they dashed for the Big Coop, also known as the house, to check out sweepings. They then settled on the bench and peered into the greenhouse. Lucy wandered out the back door, sniffing the air as she went.
I wandered the yard. Snowdrops were up everywhere. The rhubarb was just beginning to push its way through the soil, a tight red bump in the ground. The Artichoke had some new shoots; the herbs survived; there were even a few small cabbages still growing in one of the beds. Other bulbs were slowly emerging from the wet ground. Everywhere, jays and juncos dug in the loose mulch, looking for bugs.
In the far back corner, under the hazelnut tree, the beehive was perched on its bench, rising above the flood waters. Hazelnut catkins swayed in the breeze as I watched the entrance to the hive. Were the bees still alive after this winter? I watched. Sun poured onto the hive and…a few bees came back from a flight, wandered around the front door, and moved inside. While I watched, a few more wandered out into the sunlight and took off. The bees survived.
This weekend, the sun has been out. It is still cold at night, but we have seen the moon, the sun, and the far mountains on the horizon. There is hope that spring is coming. In my mind, I hear the old song about the great storm is over—lift up your heart and sing.”