Snow, Really

March 06 2010

Inside, it’s sprouts of red winter kale, giant Fordhook chard, celery, leeks and a handful of onions.


Outside, it’s 3 feet of hard-packed snow. It’s solid enough we can walk on top of it, giving us a whole new vantage: we’re eye level with the windows in the upper story of the barn; we can walk over the tops of the fences; we can inspect trees that usually arch overhead by walking up to them and looking down.


It’s sunny and warm today, so some of this snow will melt, but more of it will just compress, and when the temperatures drop to the low teens tonight, as they will, the snow will form an even harder cap over the ground. It’s hard to imagine what waits below it all: surely it’s just mud and rock and battered grass. But it feels like when it goes a tiny ice age will have passed and there’ll be little bones to dig up and artifacts of past cultures to collect.

Looking Up

March 03 2010

In January, when the last of our low tunnels collapsed under snow, when the turnips and carrots froze hard in the ground and the plastic that had sheltered them shredded in the icy wind, we finally accepted that winter had won and turned our attention from eking the last vegetables out of last year’s plantings to thinking about the summer to come. It’s hard to imagine that it’ll ever arrive. In spots where the wind has scoured away the snow, the grass is matted and bristly like an old brush, the ground hard as cement. The creek in town is a frozen ribbon, static except where the water has cut gashes in the ice, and even there the water looks thick and slow.

Nevertheless, we’ve been filling seed trays and setting them in warm spots in the kitchen and barn. We’re seeding them with plants that take a long time to wake up: celery & leeks, for instance, which would hibernate until August if they were allowed to do so. Next we’ll put in tomatoes and peppers, lettuces and kale. In a month or so, we’ll be setting up a new greenhouse and moving our young seedlings in there like settlers staking their claim against winter, making way for spring.