There’s still plenty of cold and snow to go around, but the faintest signs of spring are beginning to appear. Gazing out a friend’s window this week, I was enjoying the view when I noticed that the uppermost branches of the nearby ash trees didn’t appear quite smooth. A few weeks ago they looked as if they were tightly hugging themselves. Now—could those be buds swelling?
Another friend mentioned that her daffodil leaves were beginning to poke above the ground. I was amazed. That’s very early for Colorado Springs, but then, this winter has been significantly milder than usual. Even more astonishing is that another gardening friend has sprouting tulips in her yard! Granted, she lives about 800 feet lower than I do, but no matter which part of town you’re in, tulips are considered a late spring flower. What are they doing here in February and March?
(On the other hand, the shaded part of my yard is still wrapped in snow, so it’s not surprising that neither the Chionodoxa nor the Scilla got the message that winter is ending.)
On an unseasonably warm day about a week ago, I opened the window to air out the house a bit and realized that I heard birds singing. Yup, the male House Finches were clearly flirting, their efforts supported by a new coat of crimson feathers.
The finches weren’t the only ones. The Great Horned Owls we often hear at night have been calling back and forth, his a deep who-huh-who-who-who, hers a more feminine, higher pitched reply. (Yes, in this case at least, the female birds do have a higher pitched call than the males.)
Another clear indication of spring: the local landscape crews have started giving buzz cuts to the dormant clumps of ornamental grasses. I miss the graceful blades that have decorated the neighborhood all fall and winter, but it’s time to make room for a new season of growth. I suppose I need to haul out my garden shears and do likewise.
In fact, I need to trim off all the dead perennial foliage before new growth starts, and the occasional warm days of March are perfect for that chore. With the ground still frozen, this yearly task provides the perfect excuse to venture outside on the sunny days between snowstorms. If I’m lucky, we’ll then have a big windstorm to blow away all the trimmings, and I won’t have to gather them up for disposal!
Signs of spring affect not only the plants and animals, but us humans as well. My husband and I spent an entire Saturday, that was supposed to be a “date day,” cleaning out the garage. That is not typical behavior, I can assure you. The next weekend we tackled the basement, and made significant progress there as well. I had to clear a path to my potting bench because…
My seed orders have arrived, and I have an uncontrollable urge to start something. Squash and beans have to wait, but surely I can get started on some lettuce seedlings? Leaf lettuce can be hardy to 10 degrees, well worth the risk of a few seeds. Besides, it takes a good six weeks or more before they’re ready to harden off outside, plenty of time for the nights to warm up a bit. Onions are another crop that is cold hardy and takes seemingly forever from seed to transplant. It’s also my last chance to scatter wildflower seeds that need a winter chill.
If all this isn’t enough to convince myself that spring is finally on the way, I have only to look at the calendar. Those Who Decide have decreed that daylight savings time starts in only ten days. I don’t look forward to getting up an hour earlier, but nature can’t be thwarted. On top of that, the equinox is only three weeks away.
Looking out the window at the flock of rabbits grazing our still-dormant lawn, I wonder—are any of them holding baskets of dyed eggs?