Digging for signs of spring

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I went outside to scratch around at the ground with my rake; much the same way as a chicken does with its feet.

Slowly, I was unearthing the area where, the previous November, I had last seen one of my garden beds. I scratched at the lingering snow, I scratched apart the twisted damp piles of old leaves.

I pluckily raked and raked until that first herbal burst of Bee Balm sprang into my olfactory senses; confirmation that under that ground covering of slushy snow and leaf litter are my gardens and plants.

I bent to brush my hand along the tiny green buds of balm so that I furthered the scent rising from them, then after an inhale or two I set down my rake.

I've gardened long enough to know that peeking at a hardy stock of Bee Balm is one thing but continuing to uncover my hostas and lavender and all things summer before they are ready is entirely another. I have learned the hard way on that one.

This is the time of year where I notice most drastically the difference between living at the foot of Stratton as I do or habituating an abode in lower altitude Manchester. My yard still has pockets of snow 3 feet high, Manchester has robins, and crocus, and no one is even wearing snow boots anymore.

With a dose of sunny days ahead the living spaces will soon equal out, but for the interim I've relished visiting my Manchester based friends who have set up horseshoes and croquet in their snow free yards. I've enjoyed running errands in Manchester where it is warmer and brighter because it is a swift reminder to me that full on Spring will be coming my way up Route 11 soon, in the meantime I scratch and sniff.

Other signs of my fantasizing for warmer temperatures are nestled, hostel-like, throughout my house. This year I decided was as good a year as any to start my plants from seed. I don't fully know what I am doing, but those seed catalogs from Baker Creek and High Mowing were enticing enough with their full color plant photos to order from during one especially snowy February eve. Now I have seeds, perhaps too many. The magic of dirt, water, love also sunlight whenever it felt like making a showing, have erupted those seeds in to life; seedlings screaming up from their peat pots. I am beginning to be overrun. I may have overshot my goal.

The lettuces and tomatoes get star treatment placed beneath my southern exposure windows to ensure enough sun so they don't get leggy. Such a funny term — leggy. In the plant world it is a negative description meaning too long a stem for a sprout to properly thrive, but in my world if anyone should call me and my 5'3" (and "!) frame leggy I would swoon with delight.

My flower sets of marigolds and zinnias and moonflowers are cheerily enjoying their set-up on a side table. The zucchini is getting a kick out of joining me and my family each night at the dining room table: zucchini plants are especially important to me and I like to keep an eye on their comings and goings. I have Futsu squash in the kitchen and Bok Choy lining the sunlit hall.

The main floor of my house looks ominously like a spin off from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," but hey at least they are emitting a lot of oxygen. I tell my family that those seedlings are keeping us extra healthy during the Spring cold/flu season. My plants though, they need to go. They need to stretch and climb along my yard's rock walls and deep into my composted dirt. They need to set up in the ground and neighborly invite weeds to visit (annually, much to my chagrin). They need to dream big dreams of becoming flavorful Tigerella Tomatoes and spicy Rocket Arugula. I tell the seedlings that I have been down the mountain and I have seen no snow! We will have that here soon, the waiting almost over.

A few sober volunteers are ready to give it a go today, so I hoist the onion sets, the kale and sugar snap peas, we head outside. After I found warm earth upon which to sow my seeds, was when I acted like a chicken.

The pull of the late afternoon sun had led me to that waking garden bed. All it took was a boot swipe of the remaining snow, a raking of the leaves and there were the Bee Balm buds, already dreaming those big garden dreams.

Cock-a- doodle-do.

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