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March 5, 2006

Signs of Spring

In the Upper Midwest, there’s something about making it to March that makes you feel like you’ve turned a corner to Spring. The days are longer and warmer, and if the air feels moist, there’s as much a chance of rain as snow.

In the last few days I’ve noticed a number of signs of Spring:

Sights

• For me, the most welcome and reliable sign of Spring is the seeing the first robin of the season. I first heard him, then saw him, in a flowering crab tree next to the garage, feasting on last year’s fruit. I usually see the first robin around my birthday, March 15, so this guy is almost two weeks early. A good omen?

• The trees are budding. Our “Merrill? magnolias have enormous furry buds, like a pussy willow on steroids, and the lilacs are plumping out as well.

• When I was delivering Meals on Wheels in St. Paul last week, the tulips in front of one client’s home were already peeking two inches out of the ground.

• One of the neighborhood kids was out on his bicycle yesterday, his winter cap tucked underneath his safety helmet.

Sounds

• The cardinals and other birds are putting on dramatic choral performances every morning, the avian version of “Hey, baby,? as they try to impress their womenfolk.

• As I took the pups for a walk yesterday, we were accompanied by the sounds of melting water rushing into the drains.

Smells

• There is an unmistakable whiff of thawing earth in the air, rich and moist and delicious. The flip of that is the unmistakable whiff of thawing dog poop that irresponsible dog owners left behind on their walks.

• The thyme that grows in the chinks of our stone garden walls has greened up. Crushing a few sprigs between my fingers brings the promise of summer.

Tastes

• During my walk yesterday, I was struck with an unexpected craving for radishes, one of the first spring vegetables. Bite into one and your mouth explodes with hot and peppery flavor. What a change from heavy winter food.

• The pumpkin soup I had planned to serve as a first course for a few girlfriends next weekend suddenly seems wrong. Wrong taste, wrong season, wrong, wrong, wrong. I might have to rethink that soup or find a way to brighten it up for spring.

These are simple little observations and totally subjective but for me they add up to the impending arrival of Spring. And not a moment too soon.

More Floral Value for Your Money

If any of you have been reading the blog for a while, you know I’m mad for daffodils. I love March because you can purchase inexpensive bunches of these cheery flowers to brighten up your world.

But even I was surprised at the deals this week at our local Cub grocery store. Five stems of daffodils were being sold at 10 for $10. Amazing! I purchased five bunches earlier in the week and went back on Saturday for 10 more.

Now I have a bouquet of 50 daffodils in one earthen jug on my dining room table – for only $10!

I’m not sure how long this offer will go on, but check it out!

What I’m Reading

In the middle of: “Success Planting for Year-Round Pleasure? by Christopher Lloyd. Just started: “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell? by Susanna Clarke, at Brian’s recommendation.

Listening to: “Outlander? by Diana Gabaldon. Romantic time travel in Scotland. What a combo!

Graham’s current favorite: “The Cricket in Times Square? by George Selden.

Posted by maasx003 at March 5, 2006 8:04 AM | Books | Gardens

Comments

I can't wait until the garden starts producing cukes! Your mention of soup reminded me of the many bowls I ate last summer of yogurt cucumber soup. Mmm, there was a variation with avocado too. They were my own concoctions and very refreshing. Don't really go with today's rain, though. (sigh)

Posted by: Rebecca at March 5, 2006 12:25 PM

Your prose is much prettier than mine. Yesterday we were returning from some errand, and when entering the house, I blurted out "mmm... I smell dirt!"

Posted by: Diana at March 5, 2006 1:15 PM

Hi--just wanted to tell you that we enjoyed the "dance production" yesterday. Graham has improved alot since August. Handsome little devil, he is! Loved the colorful dresses the girls wore--all in all it was very nice. I figured you and Brian must have been behind the curtins working since I didn't see you around. Signs of spring--must be just at your hourse, haven't seen any robins here yet. Haven't noticed lilacs plumping out, probably I need to go out and look REEEEALLL close. Karen

Posted by: karen meier at March 6, 2006 7:22 PM

Here in Maine we won't get daffodils growing til tax day. Every year I buy those daffodil bunches in the grocery store for a project for my watercolor class... As for spring here, the gang of grackles showed up on the 12th on schedule... I enjoyed the story of your kuchen cooking. It sounds like such fun to get together to each cook and/or learn how to cook one's own batch.

Posted by: Catinka Knoth at March 15, 2006 12:26 PM

My first sighting of the red-winged black bird this past weekend is a sure sign for us! I love your blog. Elizabeth

Posted by: Elizabeth at March 15, 2006 12:49 PM