Today you can practically hear the hoof beats of spring galloping north toward our latitudes. Bright sun, blue sky, hens cackling, birds rejoicing. And the snow sinking, sinking into the ground.
I figured it would be a good time to start on that disgusting spring task: cleaning the yard of a winter\’s worth of dog poop. Three months of snow, three dogs–you do the math. It\’s not as if I can clean it all in one day, but rather, as the snow melts, I proceed like an archaeologist, disposing of one stratum at a time. In most of the yard, the snow was up to my knees, so it wasn\’t easy work. But at least I made a start.
While I had my rubber boots on I walked to the vegetable garden–keeping close to the house wall I could step on bare ground–where things were far from quiet. Various weeds–the inevitable ground ivy among them–were already poking up, but they\’re still in the cute baby stage, and anything green looks fabulous to me at this point. The stems of the chard I never got around to pulling up had managed to retain their bright red color. But the kale bed was the real surprise.
After the first snow in December I went out to uproot what I called the kale trees. Wolfie, who is mad for kale, over the summer had tried and failed to pull several out of the ground, and they lay like half uprooted palm trees, their thick stems twisting and spiraling on top of the bed, tufts of gray-green leaves growing from the tips. I pulled up a few and took them to the chickens–their last fresh greens of the season. But four or five of them were rooted so tenaciously that I gave up. \”What\’s the difference?\” I thought. \”By spring they\’ll have turned to compost anyway.\” So I left them.
But today, there they were, looking nothing like compost. The rabbit–don\’t ask me how he got over the two-foot walls of the bed–had gnawed the green outer layers as far as he could reach. But in the places he couldn\’t, all along those long, gnarly stems, a whole crop of new leaves was sprouting.
To celebrate, I shoveled snow (and a couple of pounds of rabbit pellets) off a corner of the patio, moved the table and chairs over to it, sat down, turned my face to the sun, and basked.