• Emily

Holding On, Letting Go

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

lettuce starts in the greenhouse soil

I could feel the change in the air today, as if the world sensed that winter was losing its grip and spring was taking root. February feels like a waiting month, caught between going back and moving forward. The greenhouse is a refuge during this time—warm, green, and smelling like earth. The winter lettuces, planted back in fall, are unfurling their leaves and beginning to take shape. They have been in a holding pattern through the darkest of winter when no growth is possible because the daylight hours are too limited at our northern latitude. As soon the days become noticeably brighter, they come out of their slumber and get to work.

Fenberg Lettuce growing in the greenhouse

The mornings are too chilly for outside work, so I started the day’s tasks in the greenhouse. It’s time to plant spring lettuces. Spring will come quickly in the growing dome (a resource we found at Growing Spaces), and temperatures will be warm enough for summer lettuces within another month and a half. Shallots planted in the winter months have begun to poke through the soil. Their season ends in late June or early July, when they dry down and are harvested.

shallots coming up in the greenhouse dome

In the afternoon, the sun burned through and I worked on early pruning. The apricots and plums will be showing definite signs of life soon, and it is important to prune them before the sap has begun to flow. I set my ladder firmly into the still-soggy ground and worked away, face and fingers cold from the breeze.

the winter sky and my pruning ladder

An eagle wheeled overhead, catching the wind as it came down the valley. I tried to follow it with my camera, but it was too quick—dipping, pausing, and then drifting effortlessly away. I turned back to my work, gathering up the prunings as a treat for the rabbits. They like nothing so well in February as a few twigs with fresh buds beginning on them.

the red buck rabbit gets some prunings

As the sun moved toward the hills, I took Shadow up to the highlands. Everywhere the ground was marked by the heaving of frost and the prints of the deer and elk who make a daily trek across this land. But between two rocks I found the first wildflowers of the spring, Salt-and-Pepper Parsley (Lomatium piperi) peeking through.

a Lomatium piperi wildflower
an elk track in the mud

At the summit of my hike, I stood for a moment and watched the clouds gathering over the southern fork of the valley. They looked thick, heavy, wet. As if they weren’t ready to give up winter’s control of the earth yet. I thought how like the earth we are—forever holding on to what is behind. Forever moving forward toward the new growth that awaits: caught in the balance between winter and spring, dormancy and sprouting, holding on and letting go.

sunset through the clouds over the hills

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