Winter into spring…

Clyde rests by the fire on a cool late winter morning

Even as our kittens snuggled by the fire on a cold morning last week, I was beginning to feel the inevitable restlessness that February always brings. The lengthening days, the warm afternoons sprinkled between frosty mornings, the subtle swelling of buds on naked limbs, the daffodils bursting through the hardened soil all stir my need to begin tending the gardens again. Tonight may be the Full Snow Moon, but here it feels like spring is coming, the seasons are turning, and there are hints of rebirth everywhere.

Chickweed flowers

All over the homestead the chickweed and hairy bittercress are blooming, reveling in the coolness of late winter and opening their stores of nectar to any early pollinators that may be emerging. They thrive in the cool weather and need no tending, spreading with wild abandon to every corner of the yarden, a tasty treat to add to our spring salads.

Golden ragwort

The golden ragwort already has flower stalks full and plump with possibility, even as the temperatures continue to dip well below freezing each morning.

Our medicine wheel garden

Restless and unable to resist digging in the dirt, I spent two warm days last week cleaning up a few gardens, and adding compost to the soil. Our medicine wheel garden already has Anise hyssop re-sprouting. New seedlings of echinacea, chamomile, calendula, and dill are growing in the greenhouse, to join the hyssop later this spring.

Anise hyssop resprouts from established roots.

The columbines have spread and are popping up all over the gardens now, much to our delight. These will be some of the first spring flowers to bloom and provide color and nectar in our yard.

Columbine unfurls new leaves as the days get longer.

A few trees and shrubs are beginning to break buds already. The elderberry seems eager to leaf out, along with the red chokeberry and spicebush, even as last year’s dried and empty swamp milkweed pods still dangle in the wind. Morning frosts are still possible for another couple of months, so seeing these plants make an early appearance comes with a risk.

Elderberry leaf buds opening against a bright blue February sky.
Last year’s swamp milkweed pods hanging on through winter

Down in our woods, the bottlebrush grass is re-emerging from the leaf litter, ready to be the first native grasses to send up flower stalks and show the world its beautiful, fluffy seeds.

Bottlebrush grass emerging

Tiny violets, too, are reappearing all over. In a few weeks their purple, yellow, or white flowers will add a touch of color and surprise for everyone who strolls through the woods.

Young violets (left) and chickweed (right)

Each morning I bundle up in layers with hat and gloves, too, to go out and walk about our homestead. By the afternoon I’ve shed those layers, eager to feel the sun’s warmth on my skin, hands plunged into soil, eyes searching for any changes to plants or beasts. I saw my first spiders this week, crawling among the pollinator gardens, and I disturbed a few earthworms with my digging hands. Each one earned a greeting – a hello and a thank you for the work they do and the joy they bring to my winter-weary mind.

I’ve enjoyed winter more than ever this year. I’ve made time to reflect and read and write and paint with intention. I’ve done some internal work, some spiritual work, that created a shift to a more joyful and peaceful way of being. So, winter has been good for me. But I still crave the warmth of spring, the call of movement, the need to be active in my gardens with dirt under my fingernails and on the seat of my pants every single day. February is that transition month from quiet reflection and rest to active doing. A time for re-emerging and re-energizing and re-birth.

Daffodils re-emerge

Just as the daffodils and dandelions come out from the darkness of the soil, from the quietness of winter, from the protection of the earth, us humans, too, re-emerge from our winter’s rest, renewed and energized. Like the seeds we plant in our gardens, we can grow and create and nourish others with our unique gifts. How we do so is up to each of us.

Happy Full Snow Moon, all. Enjoy your own late winter days, re-awakening gardens, and the turning of the seasons.

With gratitude…

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