The clouds are rolling in…again. It’s late winter in the Pacific Northwest. The time of the bitter tease. Out there amid the sodden leaves, daffodil shoots are struggling upward. The Hints of pinky orange buds show on an old flowering quince. A reddish haze thickens the deciduous trees as fruit and leaf buds begin to grow.
However, the cold ground squooshes underfoot. Blackberry vines spike into jeans and boots. Dead stalks of last year’s blooms (left for the birds to peck the seeds) fall over like the relics of bombed out buildings from an old, old war.
Basically, the garden is a depressing mess. And the weather doesn’t help.
This time of year, we get what meteorologists optimistically call sun breaks. Every few days, the grey masses sweep mountainward and ragged patches of blue sky flirt with my dreary world. For a moment, I remember summer – that high blue clarity that endlessly coaxes life upwards. The pure, warm air with lazy sunlight sweetening across my skin.
I want it.
Hope lightens the day. In the west, a thin riff of blue…and then then the tease is over. The clouds and rain gust back.
There’s a reason Washington is the Evergreen State. The obvious reason is the fir trees and pines that dominate the landscape. But there’s a lot more green than that. Even beside the ever-chilly coastline where the trees are bent over like scrawny old women, this countryside sports a skin of living green. Right now, outside in my window, emerald moss is thriving in the rank lawn. Weeds of every persuasion are creeping, sprouting, and spreading over my gardens. Even the walls of my shed have a thin coating of slime green. The irony of winter around here, is that it’s just as vibrant a growing season as the summer.
I’m a gardener through and through, so I’ve invested in waterproof pants, waterproof jackets and many heat-trapping layers to wear underneath. Rain or shine (hah!) I’m out there trying to bring order to the verdant chaos. Straggly branches are lopped; weeds slide out of the mud with roots slick, white and clean. Future flowers are given room to grow.
And wouldn’t you know it, weeds are already setting flowers. Now is the frantic time for weed birth control – get the plant out before you have a thousand seeds nestling in the beds.
So, I’m watching the cotton grey, peering outward for a little hint of blue, loving the thriving life knowing that being a gardener means getting out there, no matter the weather.
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