September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Are we there yet?

By Natalie Schmitt- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Are we half way through winter yet? This extended cold snap has turned into a persistent weather pattern lasting from December through February. These last three months have dragged on to the point of weariness. I'm growing tired of being cold and frozen. I'm tired of twisting my arms and shoulders to fit into another sweatshirt for insulation. I'm tired of stomping my feet to restore circulation in my toes and hiding my hands inside my coveralls to thaw. I'm tired of catching myself with flailing arms before I slip on another patch of ice in the yard. How much longer can this cold spell last? When will winter cease to exist and spring take over?
Well, if I would stop complaining and open my eyes, I might see that we have reached the halfway point. According to a German superstition, if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on the Christian holiday of Candlemas (Feb. 2) then winter will last for six more weeks. The furry little winter forecaster in Punxsutawney, PA named Phil saw his shadow that morning and retreated back to his burrow to hide for an extended winter nap. Yes, I guess that means winter will last for another six weeks, but then it's over. We've already survived the last three months, so I guess we have reached the half way point.
Phil isn't the only hibernating animal out for a winter peek. I don't know how many, but it sure smelled like a whole family of skunks woke up this past weekend. The yard was filled with the summer aroma of road kill. I don't know where the smell was coming from, but there was a skunk or two roaming within smelling distance. If they could find their way out from under all the snow and ice, then things must be warming up.
I noticed the corn planter buried along the wall in the machine shed. The sight of the planter didn't do much to warm up my thoughts. The weather outside feels like it will be forever before we start moving the planter away from the wall. I told Mark about the planter being stuck in the shed for a few more days. He thought for a moment and then realized we would planting corn in three months. That is only 90 days. Now when I see the planter in the shed, I just keep counting down till the planter starts moving. It is still hard to grasp that the soil will be warm enough in 90 days to start growing corn, especially when we woke up this morning to another day starting well below zero.
It is hard to believe how quickly things can change. Right now it feels like we won't see the black asphalt of our driveway until mid-July. There is a 6 to 10 inch drop from our driveway to where it meets the county road. The snowpack is so hard it could be classified as bullet proof. A zamboni couldn't make a better coat of ice. Every day I skate to the mailbox. If it didn't take so long to lace up my skates, I would put them on to get the mail and enjoy the trip.
At least during all of this cold weather, the sun has been warming up our house. The power of the sun's rays is strengthening each day. The heat generated through our southern living room windows provides a summer escape for our family on these cold mornings. After chores, the shades are pulled to the top and we scramble for a spot on the floor where the sun will warm us up. It is kind of like going to the beach to suntan without getting sand stuck in your swimsuit. We snuggle up with warm blankets and let the sun thaw out and restore our cold and tired bodies. What a great way to recharge. I sure hope Mark doesn't think this counts as a warm vacation get away. That would be like the February DHIA banquet counting as a Valentine's Day dinner/date.
Of course, a sure sign we are on the back side of winter is the growing number of seed catalogs scattered across the coffee table. The thought of growing fresh food is tempting me to expand the garden, just as everyone is starting to leave the house. It is kind of like remodeling and adding on to the house after the kids start to graduate from high school. Why add more when there are fewer at home? I have been toying with the idea of only planting potatoes and a few tomato plants this year. I don't need to can a whole ton of food anymore. The kids don't have their own kitchens and won't need my canned food supply. This could be my summer to take off from the garden. I don't know though. My 96-year-old grandfather just quit gardening a few years ago. When he was 90 he still ran three gardens. He cut back that year from five. He was the only one at home, but fed the whole neighborhood. I guess it runs in the family.
Despite the longer days, stronger sun rays and thoughts of planting, there is only one sure sign that marks the end of winter. When we trade our cups of hot chocolate for tall glasses of chocolate milk, then you know we have survived another winter and we are ready to celebrate a new spring. Here's to making it over half way through winter.
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