I know for most of the country solstice this Saturday marks the beginning of winter. But for me here on the West Coast, it is the start of spring. I’ve always had a bit of trouble with seasonal depression and it is at this point that I know I’ve made it. From this point forward I am no longer facing the dreaded shorter days but looking forward to a few more minutes of golden sun each day. Working a closing shift once a week I find myself gleefully aware of the noticeable increase in day length. It’s also at this point when I begin to really think about the spring garden. Are the beds ready? Probably not. Do I need new ones? Of course! Is there enough compost? Never.
So far this season has already been colder. I have been misled by weather reports only to wake up to frozen leaves on the lime tree and kale that is a little bit scorched. Frost on the ground has lasted in the shade until almost noon. And there will be plenty of pruning back. When I let the dog out in the morning, we both linger at the back porch trying to decide, “Is it worth it?” Do we really want to bundle up and walk all the way to the back of the yard to inspect things or can we just do it from here? Yet I find the naked ladies are donning some clothes. Callas, who seem surprisingly untouched by the cold, are getting ready to put on a show. And I think I spy an iris or two.
But this is really when my garden starts. Seed catalogs start flowing in and the choices are exciting. You can almost watch the buds on the fruit trees form and swell, awaiting a week or so of warmer weather after a bit of rain. And rain? Hopefully we will get some because it has been so terribly dry. But even though it’s the start of winter and we still have quite a ways to go, I can’t miss the subtle hint of that spring smell coming from the sun warmed earth. It’s there, only waiting. Like me. Waiting at the kitchen garden window which will soon be filled with seedlings. Waiting at the compost pile which will soon be spread around the yard. And waiting at the back porch, shovel in hand, ready to get get planting.
Have a happy solstice however you mark the day! I will mark the day by doing what else? Digging in the dirt.