Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring, right....

This winter has been the warmest, driest and mildest weather in 63 years, for Canada, 7.2 °F (4.0 °C).[1]  Usually it begins snowing around mid- to late November/early December.  Quebec City gets about 14 feet of snow a year.  Montreal is a few degrees warmer than here, and Quebec City a few degrees colder.  January is the coldest month.  In February and March we get the really big snow and it doesn't completely go away until late April (sometimes mid-May).  When the gardens of people a bit farther south of us have already begun producing little sprouts, our soil is not yet warm enough to start thinking about planting. Not if you want it to survive.

  Last year our little tree out front ("Maurice") was completely buried, all winter long, the only evidence of his existence being the tip of a few tiny branches poking through the layers of white stuff.   This picture was taken in March, 2007.  This year it only covered less than half of him.  That was a first.

This is what it looked like on April 7, 2008.
Maurice is in his snow tomb, resting.

Two years ago at this time we had so much snow
we could not open our back door and it was
 almost shoulder-high in parts of the back yard.

  This is a neighbor down the street digging a path from the
road to her front door, so as to allow
 the mailman to reach her mailbox.

 People spent days digging out,and you got to stores
(in our sector, anyway) through shoveled pathways,
 the sidewalks having disappeared under huge snowbanks.

We thought it would never go away!

But people went out in it anyway.  If your car doesn't start,
or the road is blocked, you just walk.
A fellow on my street still bikes every day,
snow or no snow

"Spring 2008:  Sitting at the window,
trying to remember what it looks like out there
with grass and flowers

We were truly getting spoiled.  A week and a half of  brisk, sunny days with cloudless skies and balmy breezes.  Clotheslines were filled with laundry flapping in the wind.  Suddenly, bikes were everywhere.  No more heavy winter coats!  You actually didn't even need to wear hat, scarf and gloves anymore. I put away the snow shovels and was outside measuring for borders for my garden plots yesterday.

But ... this is Quebec.  It's not done snowing till it's done ...  and it apparently, it's not yet ... done.  The sky started emptying out its celestial snowbucket about 6:00 this morning and didn't stop till afternoon.  Along with strong winds and blasts of  blistery cold, blowing it into drifts,  blanketing the kibble we put out on the porch for our homeless cat visitors.  They usually hide somewhere till the winds have died down but the birds beat them to it today, to the food.  Now why would a bird turn up his beak at perfectly good store-bought birdseed and opt instead to swoop into the carport and eat kibble from the cat dish?  I know it was them because their little tracks are all over the place and I caught one flying away after visiting the kibble bowl.  One would think the poor things would choke on cat kibble.  It's not something you can peck at and swallow easily--like little birdseed or a soft piece of bread.  Birds have no teeth.   It takes a cat a good few seconds to seriously crunch these particular kibble, which are not miniscule!  I can't imagine why these crazy birds don't stick to birdseed.

Anyway, everything is all covered again.  Goodbye grass, goodbye sunny, breezy days with hints of spring.  Hello again white stuff.   Put those T-shirts on hold, drag out the boots again.  One year we couldn't even begin planting till June 15.  I calculated by the time the tomatoes got ripe we'd almost be getting frost again.  In fact one year at season's end I had dozens of rock-hard, blatantly green tomatoes that hadn't even begun reddening yet.  I wrapped each one in newspaper and stuck them in a box in the basement and in a few weeks they all turned bright red and could then be eaten.  I made lots of ratatouille that fall with those tomatoes!  Am already thinking about how many bags of compost we'll need and where to rotate the radishes and cucumbers this year.  I had so much leftover chard last year (lawn bags FULL of it), I couldn't eat it fast enough. I couldn't even give it away.  Most people didn't know what to do with it, had never eaten it before, and therefore declined.  I ended up giving it to a soup kitchen located behind the community garden.  I think I went overboard last year on the chard crop.  I don't understand why the kale doesn't take, though.  I always imagined chard and kale to be sort of like cousins.

 Nikki watching today when
 the recycle truck came by.

 Evening.  Lou, playing in the snow
around Maurice.  He discovered it for the
first time this winter and was fascinated.

The forecast for tonight:  "snow mixed with ice pellets."  For Wednesday:  "Snow."  Great.  The water in the bowl outside froze.  Well, I think I'll stop writing about snow now, and concentrate on thinking about spring.

I wonder if this warming trend means there'll be more mosquitoes this summer....

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