0 In Garden/ Musings


Yesterday, the temperature snuck into the low 70s – a feat we likely won’t see repeated for a couple of more months – the highest temperature on that day here in 119 years. It seems we’re living through unique moments right and left these days.

The rise in temperature is particularly welcome here in upstate New York. Anywhere you live comes with a price – and the price of four distinct, beautiful seasons (and a low risk of natural disasters) found here is the winter, or more specifically the months of January through March. As fall first drifts into winter, the snow is romantic – swirling down, softening the landscape, brightening the nights. And snow at Christmas? Magical (as long as you’re not trying to travel through a storm). But once we hit January, the romance has died down and the coldest days of the year stretch out before us. It’s a time during which, as my photo reminders show me, I’ve often traveled for a bit of respite and sun, enough to get through the last few bitter weeks. But this year there is nowhere to go, nothing to do but wait it out.

When I was young, I’d spend the hours after farm chores were finished in the winter sledding until dark, my boots packed to the brim with snow. I just don’t have it in me these days to relish the cold. And so the first warm day of the year brings tremendous relief – though nature always marches on, it’s still easier to believe when you’re given a clear sign.

For me, that sign is not just the temperature and a day of sunshine. It’s snowdrops – the very first flower in my gardens to bloom, signaling that despite all other evidence to the contrary, spring and warmer days are actually ahead. I noticed some clusters of snowdrops growing in the woods behind my house the first spring after we moved here, and a couple of years ago, I dug up a cluster after they’d bloomed for the season, split the clump of tiny bulbs, and transplanted them into multiple flower beds around the house – I needed them that much closer. I can now take one step out the door and find the first harbinger of spring, freed from the snow, bowing modestly, 3 white petals opening and closing with the sun.

They also seem, now, to be a reminder that we are finally daring to imagine an end to the past year and the ways in which so many parts of our lives have been upended. An end perhaps in sight, signaled through the smallest of beginnings.

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