Valentine on Groundhog Day

February 4, 2011 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment

Farmers' Almanac 1896 - Presented By Phineas J...

The Farmers' Almanac says we've gained 40 minutes of daylight (Image by PhineasX via Flickr)

Here’s an excerpt on midwinter bleakness on the brink of spring, from one of my favorite local writers, John Valentine, published on Groundhog Day in The Independently Weekly:

The best way to mulch blueberry bushes is on your hands and knees, and that’s where I’ve been. This is the best time for housecleaning in the blueberry patch, too, so that’s why, on early winter mornings, I’ve tucked armfuls of pine straw around old gray trunks and stalks. The ground is cold and crusty, strands of ice still crazy-quilted with last year’s leaves.

But every two feet or so, eager, deep red, fresh blueberry shoots poke through the brown loamy cover, ready for 2011. Deer have noticed them, too: Several tender clusters have been chewed down to a few inches above the ground. But my faithful sentries—our three ever-sniffing, ever-poking dogs—have noticed the deer. Maybe we’ll call this the pre-game.

Spring is too many weeks away, but these tiny signs are such sweet reminders that we won’t always be waking to frosty, black ice dawns. I always get a little giddy flipping through the Farmers’ Almanac from the local feed and seed store. Checking the charts, I see we gained nearly 40 minutes of daylight, mostly in the evening. In January, the sun set almost a half hour later. In early February, the sun’s still low, passing through the upper branches and casting dark shadows at noon. I can’t wait for it to finally cross the sky above the pine forest bordering the orchard. It won’t be long, either: We gain another hour of daylight in this short month.

The garden is cleared; tomato and pepper cages are piled, ready, around the fence. All is still, other than the birds feasting on the compost from the chicken coop, and, of course, the cat watching the birds….

Read the rest of the story in this week’s Independent.

Entry filed under: Commentary, Sustainable Farming, Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

Time to get real about a real-food system Got yer peas in yet?

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