March Into Spring

Winter Tractor March Spring Michigan

March Into Spring

Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished.

-Lao Tzu

I love this quote, especially since we live in northern Michigan!

I love this quote, especially because we live in northern Michigan. Spring is never in a hurry here, but I always am! I wish I could take these words to heart, yet patience is not one of my virtues. At all. My to-do list gets longer every day and my manic energy kicks in as the days lengthen. I don’t sleep at night thinking of all of the work to be done and the possibilities of another growing season. This is an optimistic time…

Even after 6+ decades on the planet, I yearn for spring and wish away the last remnants of winter. This winter especially- one snow storm after another. Our farm is a series of tunnels leading to the barn, the hoop houses, the chicken coop. Everything is hard at the end of winter. I always feel this way in February; somehow I forget how hard everything is in July!

Moon March Snow at Open Sky Farm
Moon is ready for the March snow to melt!

Nevertheless, the show must go on! Despite bitter cold, wind, snow drifts up to my waist- seeds must get planted. This is part of the hopefulness that helps us northern types make it until spring. So February is a slog, but also a glimpse of what’s to come. Days in my little propagation house are gifts. It doesn’t matter that I have to shovel to get there, carry 5 gallon jugs of water from our house, shovel endless snow from the sides, worry about the greenhouse heater, check the temperature in the germination chamber – it’s spring inside and there IS life on the planet. Time to plant cool flowers, ginger, turmeric, early lettuces and greens for the hoop houses. Finally…

A turning point for me is the end of the Persephone Period – a period of time where day length is below ten hours and all plant growth stops. At our location, the Persephone Period started in early November and ended on February 7th of this year. This is a signal to every farmer here that it’s time to party! I have thousands of seeds I’m inviting this year…

And then there’s March…

March breaks the back of winter. It may not look a whole lot different than February, but you can feel the change. It’s often cold, snowy, windy, hard, and yet it’s hopeful! I know – because I keep a record – that I will see a robin here by St. Patrick’s Day. I know that before the end of March I will hear red-winged blackbirds again. Life is returning. Days are visibly longer. The sun angle is changing and snow melts faster.

We can plant in our unheated hoop houses, although each night I have to cover them is a thick frost blanket and uncover them every morning. It’s like being a mom to many little beings – I like that! I am always amazed by the tenacity of the plants we grow. Everything wants to grow and thrive and most things make the best of less-than-ideal conditions.

It won’t be long… Let’s all hang in there after this tough winter. Tough winters definitely make us appreciate the fecundity of spring and summer. Winter is beautiful in its own way- if you are balanced, it’s a good time for rest and contemplation. If you are not balanced – like me, perhaps – it’s a good time to plan for all the chaos and beauty ahead.

Happy Spring!