The View from Mattie’s Pillow

Finally warm weather. The snow is mostly gone, though still piled in a ridge where it slid off the roof over the past month, and still spread in shady spots in the woods. The corral is now mostly wet sand, boggy in spots where water is still draining off the hillside above, and pocked with the holes Mattie and Sam’s hooves have made when it was softer. Today I examined what had looked like a big patch of unmelted snow and discovered it was Sam’s white winter coat spread out in a spot where he had been rolling.

The tomatoes are four inches high and in their flats in the greenhouse. Soon I’ll be transplanting them into larger pots, one stage away from their final pots–square kitty litter containers, good for saving space in a small greenhouse. I have lettuce in a pot for the deck and a pot of basil I couldn’t resist planting. The deck is warm, the sky is blue, the geese and cranes are staging for their last push north to the nesting grounds. Spring, really, finally.

For those of you who associate spring and flowers, however, spring here is a grimy pause before the bursting-forth of summer. The ground is still soggy, not quite melted below the surface. The trees are still mere sticks, except for the willow catkins or pussywillows, the first hint of what is to come. The roads are muddy and flooded in spots. Everything is brown and gray without the relief of snow. The migrating birds passing overhead: geese, cranes, swans, ducks-are what we have instead of daffodils and crocuses.

Downriver, the tripod still rests in ice, though there are leads in the river and the ice is too soft to walk out on now. If this warming trend holds till Saturday, the ice will go out in Nenana and someone will win a share in the Nenana Ice Classic.

This year, again, proves that there is no predicting spring here in the Interior. When we bought our Ice Classic tickets April 5, only three weeks ago, we were all complaining about what a cold spring it had been. It seemed foolish to predict breakup before May 1. Now, an early ticket just may be a winner. It could be going out now while I write this.

We’re all waiting. Once the ice is gone, our brief spring will start and go. In another week it will be early summer, with bluebells and wild roses, pasque flowers, robins and thrushes, and all the wonderful work of gardening, conditioning and riding horses, and sitting on the deck with friends into the long pale night.

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