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The Hopeful Season

(post, Kathryn Humiston)

March is a transitional time in southern Wisconsin. In the past week daytime high temperatures have ranged from 20 to 60, winds have twitched from calm to wild and precipitation has fallen in every form I can think of except hail. The ground is mucky mud one day, mushy slush the next. For the past two days we watched as rain fell steadily and the rain gauge, trapped between old  snowbanks in the garden, captured an even two inches. Then it was freezing rain and ice slicks everywhere and finally five inches of wet heavy snow buried the hopeful daffodil shoots the rain had awakened. Through it all the songbirds kept singing their spring mating tunes and woodpeckers continued to drum on trees and telephone poles. On days like these it is hard to imagine the world ever being green, blooming and fruitful. 

I head to the basement for surely this old house must be seeping by now. It smells earthy, even though the floors and walls are concrete. As I pull out the dehumidifier I stop to take a quick inventory. The shelves still hold summer jewels: strawberry and raspberry jam, tomatoes, dried peppers and dried apples. A few braids of garlic dangle from the ceiling, sprouting despite my efforts to keep them hidden away in the coolest and darkest corner and lurking in one corner is a huge butternut squash, still sound and firm. 

The freezer  is filled with summer's  treasure too: squash, corn, beans, rhubarb, peaches, apples, and berries. There are a few chickens from our CSA farm and some beautiful salmon sent by a friend in Alaska.     

A year ago I was bemoaning the same sort of  wild March weather, no doubt, but  the bounty still stored away here is proof that warm, sunny planting days did return--and will again.  In the meantime, I will roast the butternut squash alongside a chicken and enliven the leftovers with green beans stewed with tomatoes and garlic. A strawberry-rhubarb pie will serve to beckon the spring muse onward.