Don’t Rush the Harbingers

Susie Hill
Frederick County Master Gardener

"When do you think things will green up?" a friend asked me this week, her voice filled with anticipation. While one answer came out of my mouth- something related to the calendar, another thought popped into my head. And that was…

"Ugh." I must be the only avid gardener I know who doesn’t eagerly await the harbingers of spring. As a matter of fact, I would like to hit the pause button in February because I find the change of seasons to be bittersweet. I love springtime as much as gardeners and non-gardeners alike. I just don’t want to say goodbye to my friend Winter. Here are my reasons….

  1. I love the restfulness and quiet of the wintertime.
  2. I love that Orion greets me in a dark sky when I get home late after driving the kids all over town.
  3. I love how the white bark of the sycamores pop against a blue sky as the sun rises in the morning.
  4. I love the shape of naked trees in the landscape and the contrasts of yellows, browns, blues, and greens.
  5. I love that evergreens get to steal the show for a change.
  6. I love that I can distinctly hear the call of the barred owl at sunset. "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for y’all?"
  7. I love watching how much the birds appreciate eating the seed heads of all the weeds I failed to pull or clean up in the fall.
  8. I love that cold weather kills lots of brown marmorated stinkbugs.
  9. I love that during the winter, I am in a dreaming state… all things gardening are possible. Seeds germinate as I anticipate, the weather cooperates, weeds are submissive to my superior gardening methods, and great bounty and beauty spring forth from every corner of my property.
  10. I love that in my mind’s eye, my yard and garden look like Longwood Gardens.
  11. Etcetera…

As I sit looking out the window, I hear spring rains on the tin roof. A small flock of tufted titmice are picking off the last of the dogwood berries and a mocking bird is eating the persistent berries off the Highbush cranberry. (The cranberries don’t taste very good, but they’ll do in a pinch.) A pair of bluebirds is building a nest in my birdhouse. And this week, I heard the spring peepers. For me, peepers are the ultimate harbinger of spring. Their song brings lightness to my heart and puts a spring in my step. The animals, like most gardeners and non-gardeners alike, are surely ready for spring.

I met a Persian woman recently and she told me that in Iran, they celebrate the New Year at the Spring Equinox. A New Year’s celebration is traditionally a time for reflection and appreciation as well as a time for anticipation and renewal. Saying goodbye to Winter is like bidding adieu to a dear friend after a long visit. I am grateful for the rest and beauty of this past winter so I don’t want to rush the harbingers of spring. Reluctantly, I will say goodbye to my friend Winter. At the same time, I will gratefully welcome another equally dear friend, Spring. The crocuses and daffodils will be here in no time. While we are waiting, it’s time to raise a glass.

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