emergent

The sky is behaving like it’s spring—last night it was holding light as late as 8:00. But a glance at the ground tells the cold hard fact. It snowed on Thursday and though the sun has been shining brightly, it’s no match for the still-chilly air, and patches of the white stuff are stubbornly hanging around. 

Still, there are a few signs of life. The apples are budding. Busy bunnies have been doing their best to clean up the last of the Brussels sprout stalks, leaving behind neat pellets of organic fertilizer. (I’m glad for their contribution but a little worried they’ll continue the habit of taking their meals here in the high season.) The rhubarb is beginning to surface.

The newborn baby howls, sorrowful and indignant to be pushed out of the womb and made to weather the world. But what about the first tender plants that crack the frozen earth to reach toward the light in these early unspringlike days? When I inspected the area where I planted last season’s mesclun, I noticed a strong reddish leaf re-emerging after a winter slumber. I remember that leaf, tough and bitter—not unpleasant, but better for a sauté than a salad. It’s an unsurprising survivor. The feathery, fennel-tasting herb is a wonder, though. With its delicate taste and texture, and I figured it for an annual. Who would have guessed it would return, up before even the dandelions?

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