Although we here in Southern California are not emerging from a winter of cold and snow (more like a winter of cool and damp) I still find myself almost giddy with excitement during these first few weeks of spring.
During the winter I drive home the in dark, looking out onto a seemingly endless sea of too bright headlights and red taillights. In spring I can drive with sunlight streaming in through the windows and a view of the Hollywood sign.
During the winter I arrive home and stand in front of our door, fumbling for my keys in the dark, hurrying to get inside as if it was already past my bedtime. In spring I can walk up to the door and go inside with no trouble at all and look forward to the daylight hours left for fun.
During winter the boys are always ensconced in pants, coats, and hats; never seeming to really get dirty. In spring the boys fling mud, roll in the sand, dig through the dirt, and end up utterly and completely filthy – just as little children should be.
During winter I sigh as I prep dinner, realizing that I need one more carrot or a few sprigs of parsley, and I am loathe to go out in the cold dark backyard to retrieve them. In spring I pause in the middle of my prep to dash outside, not even bothering with shoes, to pull a couple of carrots, snip some green onions, or gather a handful of sage leaves.
During winter Thomas draws at a desk set next to a window. In spring Thomas runs outside with a stack of paper and a fist full of crayons and draws on a dusty garden table while sitting on an over-turned bucket.
During winter my garden is quiet, a monochromatic green landscape of peas, lettuce, and carrot tops, growing slowly. In spring my garden explodes into color with a frenzy of white, pink, and magenta apple, peach, and nectarine blossoms, the first exciting yellow tomato flowers, and plants that seem to grow noticeably bigger day by day.
During winter we carry reluctant, sobbing children indoors hours before their bedtimes because the light for playtime has run out. In spring we carry exhausted, hungry children indoors for a quick dinner and bath in the few minutes between nightfall and bedtime.
This is the fourth spring for our little farm and it holds the most promise yet. Just before spring arrived I armed myself with a tape measure, a map of the backyard, a pencil, the assistance of my favorite four year old, and plotted out each garden bed down to a six inch square resolution. I then plotted the results electronically and printed myself a grid representing each garden bed. The grids went into a binder with a case of colored pencils and now as work through spring planting the entire garden is taking shape in a beautiful rainbow of precision. The mapping is not only deeply satisfying to my inner nerd but will also truly be invaluable for tracking potential soil borne disease, for crop rotation, and planning a more diverse garden. When we first began to “farmscape” the backyard we had not a single fruit tree. We now have twelve fruit trees – eight of them new deciduous fruit trees planted in an intensive backyard orchard. After an initial seedling debacle involving the use of unsterilized compost (which is why one rainy weekend in February found me baking compost in my oven) I have began transplanting tomatoes I started from seed at the end of March. There are many more tomatoes and an entire flat of peppers, melons, and herbs that will be ready shortly. This summer we hope to see our dreams of chickens, a wood burning earth oven, and bees turn from a fantasy into a reality. We spent a wonderful spring weekend outside these past two days, planting dozens of seeds, trellising blackberries, building potato boxes, fighting monsters with the neighbor boys, looking for “icky bugs”, and cleaning up after all the late winter rains. I never paid all that much attention to the seasons growing up: winter was cold, summer was hot, fall and spring were neither. Now I find myself enthralled by the change into spring (and later the change into fall). I spend far more time outside now as an adult than I did as a child. And I find that I am happy out in the sunlight, digging in the dirt, running around with my boys.
Is anyone else swooning over spring the way that I am? What do you enjoy this time of year?