Feb 15, 2015

New Green Hope

I have just returned from a walk by the river - something I haven't done in months. The flattening of the wild flora on the path and the laying of a good half-foot of rock to "improve" the road made for a depressing scene, so I left that place I love for a time.  Over the winter, the snow and ice seems to have settled the earth again, and in most places an easy walk is possible. There are even areas where grass is working valiantly to come up through the rock.

I shall shake every seed-pod I find. There will be wild things again.

I spotted the gloriously prickled pods of burdock - one of the few plants that survived the earth-movers last Fall.  Along the outermost edge of the riverbank some staghorn sumac, a few mullein stalks, and a handful of wild rose canes have lingered on, along with a sampling of other assorted plants clinging between rocks and water. These will spread this year, populating whatever spot they can, and I am already looking forward to the summer months when the barren path will have life on it again.

Where the road meets the hillside, the red willow is the showiest plant to grace the trail. Until it is covered with leaves, the red bark stands out as an emblem of February cheer.  It is ripe for cutting now - almost a bit too ripe, as the weather has perked up and with the warming, the buds are growing rapidly.  I snipped a few stems and will find some time today to carefully skin the two layers of bark off in little spiral strips to dry for a local incense mix.

At home in the garden there are little signs of life.  The chives have popped up, lime green shoots cheerfully working their way through the soil.  I planted cold weather lettuces and green onions* yesterday. It is the earliest I have ever put seeds in the earth, but with the warm weather we are having and the raised beds I garden in, these cold-loving crops will be just fine.

The rest of the yard is still a deep Winter brown. There are perennials to trim, raspberry canes to cut back and train, new flags to raise, and so much planning. But the seaons is very early yet. Imbolc marked a turning point toward warmth for us here in the West, but I'm afraid the groundhog was not so kind to those East of the Rockies.

Be warm and safe. Be well and of good cheer. Winter can not hold out forever. Sending you sunshine to warm your coldest days, and plenty of new, green hope.

Assorted ways to get a little celebratory in February:
~ Starting today, V-day chocolate is half-off!
~ If you are down South, Mardi Gras is about to kick off! Here's is what is happening in NOLA.
~ If you aren't going to make it to Mardi Gras, you can still have pancakes!
~ And if pancakes are not your style, a King Cake is on the menu too.
~ Chinese New Year begins February 19th - the year of the Sheep/Goat!

* I planted green onion seeds, not onion sets. Seeds will survive the few frosts we have left to come - onion sets would be too far along to survive several frosts and would likely rot in the earth. If you would rather plant onion sets - wait until most of the frost danger has passed.