Thursday, March 10, 2011

In Search of Signs of Spring

I don’t trust Puxatawney Phil. Don’t trust him at all. First of all, he’s a groundhog. Sorry, animal rights folks, but around here, we really do NOT like groundhogs. They eat the garden relentlessly, and make huge holes in fields in which the animals might injure themselves. We have had groundhogs eat through the phone line out back more than once! There are actually groundhog hunters in our part of the world. Some of them attain some type of hero status with farmers and rural residents alike.

We won’t even get into the fact that Phil is not only a groundhog, but a YANKEE groundhog. Now, now, northern friends…you know me well enough to know I don’t hold it against ya… really!

Since Phil and I are on the outs, I went looking for my own signs of Spring. You can’t find much in the way of “spring-y-ness” here at 2,000 feet in the Shenandoah Valley in early February when Phil does his prediction. It’s very much wishful thinking. While we DO live in the Valley….we’re on the up side, very close to the Allegheny Mountains. We have been known to have a freeze here as late as the last week of May, so Spring is well…just a date on the calendar. We recently had snow and sleet, despite the fact that it is MARCH!(and the calendar says that SPRING starts in 10 days)

I did find some signs of spring, though. I found signs that encourage me greatly. Signs that mean, YES, once again, spring will come and we will plant, things will grow, we will indeed grow and harvest once more!

I found crocus blooming in the backyard.

The grass is getting greener by the day.

The wild onions are growing very well! Wild onions really herald spring to me.

Back when we had cows, they loved the onions….REALLY loved the onions. The infamous jersey cow “Kuh” would go into a new paddock and eat the onions.
Just the onions. You could watch her move through the paddock munching first one onion patch and then another. When she would come into the barn for milking….I KNEW it was Spring! The smell of onion breath about knocked me over! But, she seemed SO HAPPY! The big down-side to the arrival of the spring onions was the long period of “onion milk”. Oh, yeah…the milk smelled! Big time onion milk smell! Ugh!! Note to any home dairy-folks: Do NOT make icecream in early spring. Do NOT attempt to make your children drink Spring milk! And you may want to learn to hold your breath for long periods of time if you milk your cows by hand. Thankfully, we discovered ways around this odoriferous phenomenon. Despite the stinkiness of the cows in early spring, it was another sign that the cycle of the seasons was continuing to roll forward.

I also noted that the little buds on the fruit trees are beginning to swell.

It does not look like there are as many as last year. Tom had to tie the branches up, so the trees would NOT break. Hopefully, if we don’t get a late frost, we’ll have peaches, plums, pears, and apples in late summer.

So, Spring is definitely coming… I can’t tell you if it will be early, or if the Old Farmers’ Almanac will be right and we’ll have two more snows. Nope, my prediction is far less specific. I will only commit to saying….Spring is on its way! And to that, I can only say, “HOORAY!”

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