OK, one thing I need to get straight before we go any further: I write these things ahead of deadline, so what follows is based on weather conditions that existed anytime from a few days to a couple of weeks ago, depending on when you read it. I tell you this in case something happens to void everything I say and make you think I’m a complete boob. I’m not. I’m an incomplete one. Anyway, here goes …
As I write this we are in the middle of what I call a false spring. The temperatures are warm, and not just for January. It’s jacket weather. Birds are singing. The sun is out. I hear reports of insects showing themselves again.
And it stinks.
I realize this sets me aside from the norm, or at least the norm of my friends and acquaintances (only a couple of whom are named Norm, and very few of whom can actually be considered normal), but I actually like winter and I feel cheated that we haven’t had more of it this year.
I’m not talking blizzards. I’m not even talking snow enough to warrant school closings (sorry, kids). But a few measly inches — let’s say just enough to warrant firing up the snow blower — would not hurt us. And that’s what I’d like to see.
It’s especially acute now that my seed catalogs have begun arriving.
I have to admit that I find seed catalogs to be absolutely irresistible — most years. I love looking at the photos of Hollywood-perfect fruits and vegetables and imagining a bounty like that growing in my own backyard garden — most years.
But this year the experience has left me a little flat and I think it’s because the weather is too nice. For seed catalogs to really do their jobs, for them to really plant the ridiculous notion that you, too, can grow picture perfect tomatoes and unblemished cucumbers, there has to be snow on the ground and a thermometer reading below freezing. You must have the blank canvas of a bleak midwinter landscape upon which to paint your midsummer horticultural fantasy.
The point is I’m just not enjoying my seed catalogs as much as I usually do, and I think the reason is there hasn’t been enough snow this winter. In seed catalogs, it’s always the height of the harvest season, and as you read it serves a sort of homing beacon during the long, dark — and yes, snowy — winter.
Now, I realize there’s a flip side to all this. Weather people on TV, for example. They’re just about intolerable when there’s snow falling. And I notice here in the city that the number of people who don’t know how to drive on snow seem to be increasing. This is a problem when you live in the place where the snow removal is so lousy.
But still, I’d like a little more snow before winter ends. I have a big pile of seed catalogs to get through, after all, and it’s just not the same without some real winter weather to read by.
(Unless, of course, it has snowed between the time I wrote this and the time you’re reading it, in which case never mind and I’ll get back to you after I order some carrot seed.)