In the American sports world these days there’s lots of talk about brackets and Cinderella teams and number 2 seeds getting taken out by number 16 seeds. But the only seeds I’m thinking of during March Madness this year are the ones that will grow into vegetables.
It’s been 70 degrees or warmer the better part of the last week. In mid-March. In northern New England. Where last year at this time the snow banks along the driveway were still dwarfing the lilac bushes, this week the lilacs are budding. There is no snow on the ground anywhere in sight, except for a wee bit in the deepest rocky crevices of Mount Lafayette and on the high slopes of Cannon Mountain, where a couple months ago they stockpiled manmade snow to last the season.
Well, a week of summer weather means ski season ends this weekend. And I feel as if I should be planting the garden rather than making the final turns of the winter.
March Madness? I’m surrounded by it. In a matter, literally, of minutes we went from ski boots to flip flops, turtlenecks to tank tops, chilly air to freakin’ mosquitoes! There are dandelion greens peeking at us from the yard. The tulips are up six inches and look to be blooming in another week. Continuous warm temperatures mean maple sugaring season was abruptly abbreviated this year, so get ready for the price of maple syrup to skyrocket.
The birds are chirping incessantly. The peepers are singing already. The bears are up. While we haven’t actually seen any bruins, yet, the paths through our yard and fields are littered with their scat. It’s a good reminder to keep the muck boots on when we wander around outside, even though our winter weary toes long for flip flops.
Our mudroom, whose scattered piles are normally indicative of the season, is now a schizophrenic hodgepodge of chaos. (OK, with three small kids, two adults, a long-haired dog who likes to roll around in the mucky field, and two cats thrown in for good measure, our mudroom is normally chaos, just not quite to this extent.) There are snow boots and mud boots, ski pants and sandals, neck gaiters and sunglasses all mixed together in a confusing jumble.
“Mom, do we need mittens?” my kids shout as we head out the door. “Should I wear my snow boots or my rain boots? Or my flip flops?” My smallest one, age 3, went out the other morning in shorts, rain boots, a spring weight fleece jacket, winter hat, mittens, and sunglasses. March Madness, indeed.
The last two afternoons the kids have stripped down to play in a makeshift kiddie pool. Last night they revived one of their favorite pre-bedtime summer rituals: running around the front yard in circles as fast as they can, giggling in a slap-happily the whole time. They came in covered in mud and dirt, got cleaned off, and fell into bed exhausted.
Next week we return to cooler temperatures. Normal March weather, requiring long sleeves and socks. It might even snow a little bit. It won’t surprise me one bit if it snows – a lot – before summer really sets in. Really, we had a taste of winter in October, lots of fall-ish mud season-esque weather through much of the winter, and now summer in March. Why not winter in April? Or May? It’s a good reminder to all those North Country folks who lament snow in winter (hello, it’s WINTER in NEW ENGLAND!) that we don’t get to choose when it happens, but snow is a fact of life here. It’s easy to embrace snow in winter. Snow in late spring, after a taste of summer, not so much.
So, for a while, our mudroom will remain confused, as will the tulips. We’ll leave the bikes on the porch, but the snowshoes are still there, too. And while I’m tempted to sow seeds in my veggie garden, which is completely melted out and warmed by the sun, I think for now I’ll stick to planting seedlings inside, leaving them in the warm, south-facing window of the living room.
It’s a good place for looking out at the March Madness around us.