The photo I took of twigs didn’t turn out. “What are you doing?” exclaimed my colleagues. “Taking a picture of spring?”

Well, yes. It appears to be making its presence felt. Snow remains on the ground, but it shrinks every day. Twigs are still bare, but the buds are swelling. Storms come to the mountains, but they bring rain. Ravens are flying in pairs, renewing the bonds in anticipation of another breeding season.

We have had a classic El Nino winter, which means warmer and drier in the Northwest. While California gets clobbered with winter, we have gotten off lightly here. It’s a great disappointment to winter sports enthusiasts. I haven’t been out skiing as much as I’d like, but I can easily think about gardening instead.

At my house, it’s mud season. Dirt is revealed as snow and ice withdraw from the yard. We gained an hour and nine minutes of daylight in January, and I’ve used the longer afternoons to poke around outside. The snowdrops are coming up. Finches are singing. My seed order is on its way from Oregon, and I have started a few little things in the tabletop propagator. I looked in the lettuce tunnel, where Henry has rototilled the soil with his cat paws, leaving no baby lettuces at all. There’s one kale plant and some scallions. Pathetic. It’s time to craft a kitty excluding device from chicken wire and sticks. Time to decide if I’m really going to try to raise a few chickens this year. Time to prune the fruit trees.

I continue to nibble away at my stash–pesto from the freezer, peaches canned in September, applesauce, dried herbs. Harvest is a lot of work, but I am always grateful in the winter. Always.

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