Thursday, March 31, 2011

Will Spring Ever Come?

Icicles cling to the pines on the last day of March, 2011. "Out Like A Lion" this year, winter still resides in the high country of Pennsylvania in the waning days of March. The nightly news warns of a Nor'easter for the east coast of the US, with up to two feet of snow expected in New England on April 1st. We will get a taste of that here, too. We are all April's Fools this year!

More disturbing is the radiation being discovered in milk, in the air and in the ground. Its unique signature, Iodine 131, reveals that it blew in from Japan, fell on the countryside and was consumed by cows. Humans are at the end of the food chain, so this poses a 'tip-of-the-iceberg' problem for America and ultimately for the rest of the world.

The fight for freedom escalates in the Middle East with the struggle in Libya keeping us riveted to the talking heads. That part of the world seems so far away, but we are inexorably tied to them by our insatiable thirst for oil. Do we really care about the terrorized people there, or is it the price per gallon of gasoline that gives this such worrisome prominence on our news?

Here in the high valleys, the snowmelt reveals bare, frozen ground. The sun gives the illusion of warmth and the promise of greening grass. We wait, our pale faces turned towards the bright, cold sunlight. The landscape resembles a desert, despite plentiful moisture. It is the grip of cold that will not allow the warmth to seep into the ground, into our winter-weary bones.

We busy ourselves with the ritual repairs of spring; nailing up the sagging gutters, rolling out the deep ruts made by the snowplow in the soft berm of the lane, replacing the lagging solar tracker motor loosened by the incessant buffeting of the winds, replanting the grass seed that didn't grow when we planted it too late last fall. We fuss over the tender eggplant and tomato seedlings that will bear the succulent veggie fruits of summer. It's too early yet to bring out the patio furniture, the chairs where we will sit and bask in the summer sun, the tables where we will dine alfresco on grilled delicacies and fresh produce.

We make plans for the next warm day. We should think about bringing out the planters; think about giving them a good scrub and filling them with soil in preparation for the flowers we will grow. We get out the push-broom and brush the muddy dog prints from the walkways, sweep up the falling pin oak leaves where the swirling wind has heaped them into piles in the sheltered corners of the house.The barn cats sit hunched on the picnic table, taking shelter from the biting west winds, alert for a brave chipmunk, vole or field mouse to venture close enough to provide them with fresh meat. We all wait patiently for spring.