I turned the page on the calendar for the first time in 2009 and I cannot see it made much difference. The family dog is asleep in front of the television where he spent most January nights because, even if it is February, it is another below-zero night.
I get a little uneasy this time of year because we have gotten accustomed to winter. I hate to admit it, but we might even be getting good at it this winter thing. We have our coats, gloves and head coverings close by and reach for them automatically when we go outside. If we can get away with it, we will skip them if we know we will be outside for a few minutes, but any longer than that to be uncovered is foolish and dangerous.
I am afraid of getting too good at winter because we might get so comfortable with our winter routine that winter will never leave. We have proven we can do it. We wear warm clothing, plug in our diesel engines so they’ll start again, drive slower in bad weather, or even stay home; we build our routine around the cold.
There you go. Winter never leaves and we are so acclimated to cold and snow we just accept it.
However, February does have an advantage. It is the month that teases us with a few hints that winter might be on its way out, just not very soon. The sun is gathering strength, the days are lengthening, and occasionally, we get days above freezing.
When temperatures go above freezing, great things happen. As the snow disappears, bare ground appears and we realize how much we have missed that bare ground we have not seen since last year. It has been under a blanket, but it was not a blanket that provided any comfort.
The mud that replaces the snow is annoying, but is a mostly temporary condition. After a few days, the ground gets firmer as it dries. We all breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate by finding more tasks that need to be done outside. The melting snow will reveal those jobs we were working on and which can now be resumed and even finished.
We can also indulge ourselves with thoughts of summer vacations and picnics. We did not dare think of such things during winter, because if winter stayed, the disappointment would be overwhelming.
Another advantage of these springtime teases of warm sun and outdoor enticements is they are given to all, regardless of how your stock portfolio has performed, whether you sold your corn for $7 and your soybeans for $15 or not, or how much your retirement account has been reduced.
In a time when everyone is going through belt tightening, we can all appreciate the relaxing of winter’s grip that has no price associated with it. It is given freely to all and the government has not found a way to tax it yet, but let’s not give them any ideas.
For me, I have two favorite signs of spring’s return. The first one is the appearance of the tomcats, some who only show up once a year, and the resultant litters of kittens we enjoy a while later.
The second sign of spring is when I attach the garden hose to the hydrant. What is more spring like than the garden hose? It washes away those reminders of winter, provides a welcome drink to plants, animals and man as it cleans cars, fills birdbaths and watering bowls an when held to the lips, refreshes on a warm day.
These will be followed by our ultimate celebration of release from winter captivity when we can turn down the thermostat, finally open our windows and leave them open.
Winter, be gone!
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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