On Being Premature

Copyrighted 2012 by Fay Moore

The temperatures, prematurely warm, dance around the 70 degree mark for weeks. Incredulous, the novice farmer watches weather reports daily, certain that the laws of science will kick in; a reversion to normal is at hand.

Nevertheless, gardens are prepared, last year’s plant corpses tilled in to feed the worms. Manure is spread. Kitchen scraps get buried in holes randomly scattered in the raised beds. Egg shells are crushed. What the chickens don’t eat goes into the ground, a source of calcium for plants and people. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

On week five of early spring, leaf buds swell on the grape vines,  archetypal  slow bloomers to avoid the killing frost.  Tree pollen paints flat surfaces chartreuse. Bluebirds claim post holes and sparrows build nests.  All nature pronounces the danger is past.

On week six, still no low temperatures. Tadpoles squiggle in the fish pond. Spring frogs trill at night.  The woods sing. The farmer relents, planting seeds weeks before the instructions on the seed bag say it’s time.

On week seven, the hens seek roosters. The horses drop hunks of winter hair, rolling vigorously to scratch itchy skin. More seeds go into the ground. The farmer sweats.

On week eight, the flier goes out advertising the pre-sale of garden produce through membership shares. In the field, tender sprouts push out the first set of true leaves.

On week nine, normal prevails: frost bites.

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