I woke on March 9th to snow-frosted trees and a fresh layer of snow on the ground, but spring, it seems, has come quickly, bringing with it warm air and pulling us into the high 50s.
There are downsides:
We don’t have a refrigerator, and winter allows us to keep milk and yogurt between the door and a fleece blanket, where enough cold air seeps in to create a microclimate that nicely mimics a fridge. With warmer temperatures, we need to get the coolers out and get back into the rhythm of changing out ice packs to keep food cold.
It is too warm to use our cook stove, so I turned on the gas stove for the first time since November. Though this excited me in some ways, the immediate ease of propane is shadowed by thoughts of paying money for a fuel that does not easily come from the earth, especially compared to the wood we harvested from the farm where we live, which has kept us warm through felling, chopping, stacking, and burning, and has provided our meals for the past three months. You can say that wood does not come easily, either, but I take comfort in knowing exactly where it came from, how much physical energy was required to obtain it, and that new trees are growing in its place. It is a renewable resource that I can see regenerate in my lifetime, whereas propane is not.
Still. I made pesto potatoes and eggs for lunch on the propane stove, and they were delicious.
Spring brings many more upsides:
Maple Syrup. Edge woke at 3:00 am with a feeling he needed to check the holding tank in the sugarhouse. With only an inch of room left and more sap flowing in, he called John and they fired up the arch. Twelve hours later, the fire is still burning, sap is still boiling, and the trees are still giving more.
Seed Starting. There must be part of us that opens like a seed and sprouts to life each spring. The first stretch of sunny days awakens me with a new energy, and I am giddy to pass it on, planting herb, vegetable and flower seeds in the greenhouse. Though it is still a few months away, the first garden harvest is in sight, and I can almost taste the pea shoots and radishes.
The uncovering of wild things. Footprints in the snow melt away to reveal other forms of life: hobblebush, saplings, blue cohosh, lambsquarters, dandelions, blackberries, and so much more. Slowly the ground begins to warm, bringing life back to frogs, turtles, beavers and bears. The shells of wild seeds soften so they may set new roots down and stretch new stems up.
Then there are the wonders we unconsciously wait for in this season that returns light to the northern hemisphere. Just as winter pares us down, offering space and clarity, spring wakes us up and puts a bounce back in our legs—those roots that nourish us so we may reach up like flower petals and shout YES to the open face of the sun. So though I say goodbye to the make-shift fridge and cooking with the woodstove, I say hello to mud and sun, to the leafing out of trees and shrubs, to the forest filling in again, and to the sweet syrup of maples, which nourishes us the whole year through.