Hints of spring
My senses tell me that we are locked in winter. Precipitation, in all its myriad forms, defines the outdoor experience. Rain, snow, fog, ice, sleet; all keep activities in the garden to a minimum. On some visceral level I want to hibernate, stay in the cave and bank the coals.
But some Earth based traditions recognize the first stirrings of spring and celebrate Imbolc on February 1 or 2nd. Imbolc (i mbolg, ‘in the belly’) reaches back to Celtic traditions and refers to the birthing of lambs. The lengthening days and the return of light are integral parts of this holiday as well. Pagans and Christians alike pay tribute to Brigid. The Christian church celebrates Candlemas. And of course, the secular Punxsutawney Phil bears a weighty responsibility as a predictor of spring.
My personal cues also point to the beginnings of spring. Daffodils are pushing, winter daphne buds are swelling and my greenhouse activities have begun. The lettuce and mâche seeds I planted last week have germinated. The parsley, as expected, has not. It’s said that parsley goes to the devil and back nine times before it sprouts. I expect mine is on trip three. But it will sprout and I suppose that’s what defines spring - the surety that seeds will give over to seedlings.
I am fascinated with this year’s lettuce. Though only cotyledons are visible, the expected color of ‘Maroon’ is already showing. Not surprising from a cultivar that is described variously as ‘intense burgundy’, ‘opulent ruby-red’ and ‘darkest maroon’. If these little seed leaves are showing such color I imagine that the lettuce will live up to its reputation.
Though seed germination is always intriguing, it is especially compelling in this still wintry weather. Any whisper of spring is enough of a harbinger of warmer times ahead. Stirrings ‘in the belly’ of my waterlogged garden belie the continuing rain’s winter chant and I know with a sunny certainty that spring really is just around the cloudy corner.