9:20Am, 11 degrees outside after an overnight low of 6,
18 inches of snow on the ground, we are in the grip of winter
but at the bird feeder there is a bird with a glowing golden chest,
the gold finch already putting out his courting feathers. Today
all the little brown birds are arrayed: a rosy breast on an
unidentified one and chestnut on the chickadee. It is cold enough.
for feathers to fluff, the chickadee, awaiting his turn on
the clothesline, is as round as a tennis ball.
but at the suet the woodpecker’s top knot glows a velvety red.
He is ready for spring. as are the would-be gardeners attending
evening lectures: Growing Your Own Food. In this year of
economic collapse, Dave and Lauren from the Franklin County
Extension drive out, dark night after dark night to talk about soils
and choosing seeds and these new gardeners join the ranks of the old
to spend their winter evenings day-dreaming over seed catalogs,
planning where the garden will go, debating raised beds versus
long rows. Snow still lies deep and white, the icehouses
and their owner’s cars are still parked securely on the lake. It’s been
a good winter for snow shoeing and cross county skiing, weekends
are filled with the whine of snowmobiles, but those of us
who don’t go south for the winter are delighting in the longer afternoons.
We’ve eyed the stacks in the woodshed and think
we’ll be all right until spring, we aren’t whining,
we aren’t complaining, but the signs of spring are a delight.
and the old husband sleeping late upstairs
is clothed in a romantic aura that cold drafts coming down the stairs
on a winter evening somehow had not inspired.
– Ruth Webber Evans