The winter was so hard and cold,
Froze ten feet ’neath the ground.
— Grateful Dead, “Dire Wolf”
Cold and long, even by north country standards.
It started out mild and manageable. We skated through Thanksgiving and Christmas with tempered cold and scattered snow; even January exercised restraint.
Then February arrived, and with it an unrelenting deep freeze. All through the month, every night subzero. Many days, too. March came, and the mercury dipped even further. The local airport reading of -39F was the coldest ever recorded for the month of March. Then snow. Piling deeper and deeper. The patio furniture buried; the hoop houses barely peeking through the drifts. I dug a path from door to yard so the dog could use her bathroom. She would, then lift paws up and out in odd configuration, hobbling back inside on near-frozen feet.
We watched out the windows, numbed by the onslaught. One day I drove into town and saw a crow on some telephone lines, head tucked into wing. Still. Trying to shelter. How I wished I could have offered a spot in front of my fireplace.
And now the rain:
Its steady orchestra thrumming on the roof, in melodic rhythm melting away the icy banks.
Just in time. In time for the birds to begin singing; in time for us humans to emerge, blinking, from protracted hibernation.
The pup and I went for a walk yesterday, past anemic yellow lawns just beginning to green around the edges, past the creek already overflowing into the oxbow. I hear the song first—the resonant, throaty, unmistakable trill—long before I see the singer. I scan the skies until it comes into view, gliding in from the northwest. A single sandhill, a steady stream of calls; overhead and past, then a slow circle back.
Quiet now, it returns in the direction from which it came.
Raspberry Lemon Chia Jam
Makes ~2 C
This time of year has me craving things crisp and colorful, yet fresh local produce is still some months away. Frozen fruit gives me that zingy punch I’m looking for, and this raspberry chia jam will tide me over till the backyard patch starts producing in earnest this summer.
- 350 g frozen raspberries
- zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 C maple syrup
- 1/4 C chia seeds (preferably white for color, but either will work)
- Place raspberries in a medium saucepan over very low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until raspberries are just thawed enough that you can smash them with a fork. Smash away!
- Whisk in the lemon juice and zest, and then the maple syrup.
- Add the chia seeds and give the mixture a good stir. Wait ten minutes, then stir again.
- Pour into a glass jar, cover, and refrigerate. Let the mixture set for at least one hour, but preferably overnight.
- Will keep in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.