Winter has felt longer than normal this year up here at the foot of Timber Butte. As we’ve witnessed the snow begin its slow surrender to the warmth of lengthening days of sunlight we find ourselves overly ready for the breakthrough of spring. The firewood pile has become notably low and the hay stack has dwindled to a fraction of what it was before the first snow’s fall. These are clear indications of the passing of another winter. And now, even though the March skies are rainy and gray, the days occasionally touch temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s causing the snowpack to loosen their grip on the steep slopes above us causing the creeks to swell again. The ice on the pond has just recently become dangerously thin and for the first time since mid November, our long driveway is revealing patches of earth and gravel.
The promise of spring is real and the changes I feel can’t help but take my mind to the thoughts of ordering vegetable seeds, the contemplation of new raised beds we will construct in the kitchen garden and of Nancy’s magnificent spring and summer flowers. I’ve again been anticipating the beauty of greening hay fields, of the spring calves we will be purchasing and of freely riding horses without having to negotiate hillsides of slippery ice and snow.
As much as it sounds like I’m complaining and as ready as I truly am for a change from the confinement in these final weeks of winter, I do cherish the privilege of being able to live where I can experience the changing of the seasons. Without the muted grayness of February and March I know I might never fully appreciate the exhilaration of the warming brighter days that so infectiously ignites the human spirit with the in-breaking of spring. Without the definition of changing seasons one day has a way of blending into another creating a kind of status quo melancholy that makes life a lot less interesting. Every seasonal change brings new challenges and new opportunities. They force the vision to prepare and the dreams to plan new projects just as the winter cold forces the spring bulbs to bloom. They offer the diversity of activity and the breaking of a routinized life. There is no question – this year I am very ready for spring. But, truth be told, I will always value the confinement of the colder shorter days that even now are quickly passing. They have gained a special place in my heart as they have primed my soul for the thanksgiving I will inevitably feel with the announcement of another changing season.