Last week, snow covered the ground for the first time this year. There were still many garden chores Id hoped to do.
Some dont require the ground uncovered: I urged myself to get busy and shut off the indoor feeds to the outdoor faucets, to cover the hose reel; to gather and toss onto the snow the ripe seeds of flower-of-an-hour, nodding onion and lambs quarters, a weed whose spinachy-tasting leaves I relish.
But if the snow lasted, Id have to leave weeding 'til spring. I love johnny jump-ups, but last summer they almost smothered my viola labradorica. I pulled the offenders out (I have plenty around the yard) but thousands of seedlings sprouted, and are thriving now; I know theyll grow under snow. I dont know about lamiastrum, but its almost crossed the path into some daylilies I dont want to lose....
Still, I wasnt too sorry. Its getting harder every year to get myself outdoors in the cold tail end of the gardening season. Snow cover would be a relief.
Then it melted. By upbraiding myself roundly, I got myself out working. My back was pretty sore afterward, but I enjoyed getting tasks done. It was worth it; I knew I would feel that way and still I resisted.
I was glad for the reprieve in the weather and at the same time Im still longing for winters rest. This ambivalence reminds me of something.... With spring fever, people feel odd combinations of laziness and restlessness; we want to get outdoors again. I think I have the reverse.
You can attribute it to melatonin, the hormone produced by the pineal gland when its not exposed to sunlight. In animals, melatonin triggers hibernation.
Or you can see it in a wider context. These times of transition are called by anthropologists liminal, after the Latin word for threshold. All the earth-centered cultures of the world acknowledge that they raise strong feelings and other powerful energies.
Liminal times are spooky, magical: sunrise and sundown, birth and death; initiations and rites of passage; New Years and Halloween (Northwestern Europes ancient New Year ); the dark of the moon; the threshold between waking and sleep.
As I was waking this morning, I thought I heard snowplows rumble down our street. As it turns out, they were not but theyre coming soon. I can hear them, here on the threshold of winter.