It is February in Wisconsin. Okay, it's February everywhere... but, in Wisconsin (and in Minnesota), February is quite possibly the most miserable month ever. Valentine's Day is the only holiday in February and that is only a fun holiday if you make it fun and have someone to celebrate it with. School conferences often happen in February. The snow sometimes melts in February and then it quickly refreezes so you are left with a dark, dingy, dirty, frozen world. I begin to run out of canned and freshly frozen fruits and vegetables in February and need to begin buying these from the grocery store. You can't possibly force yourself to eat any more hotdish by the end of February. For those of you who are not from Minnesota or Wisconsin... a hotdish is the same as a casserole. And for those of you who say casserole, don't get me started on the word "davenport". Where did that even come from? Was that the name of a couch manufacturer? Anyway... back on subject...
It is February in Wisconsin. We grilled burgers and chicken a couple of weeks ago and you could almost forget it was winter for a moment if you stood by the grill in the garage and closed your eyes. Those were the tastiest burgers I have had in a very long time... possibly since summer?!! However, I haven't had a good juicy grilled steak with fresh from the garden tomatoes and cucumbers since last summer and boy do I sure miss that! I just came across this email that I wrote last August. If you could read with your eyes closed I'd tell you to close them for this, but you'll need to keep them open so that you can read. : )
August 7, 2008
How do we survive winter here? It seems to me like we just survive it, but we don't live until spring rolls around. Are we that different from the plants that go in to hibernation each winter and sprout fresh again each spring, absorbing the sun all summer long and then flowering at the end of summer?
Lately, lunch and supper consist of juicy sweet corn, fresh warm-from-the-sun tomatoes, cucumbers, crisp green beans, sweet sugar snap peas, and berry desserts and I just can't figure out how we survive all winter without all of this fresh stuff? And even more puzzling... how did people do it in the days before convenient grocery stores that carried "fresh" produce year-round? ...when everything had to be cooked to death and then canned.
I've been enjoying cucumber and tomato slices topped with a spoonful of cottage cheese and sprinkled with salt & pepper. That along side a smokey, tender grilled steak is a perfect summer meal.
And as much as I love the "fruits" of gardening labor, I have also thoroughly enjoyed all that the new flowerbeds and yard have brought this year! We still have a lot of work to do in our yard and the flowerbeds are just a start, but already the wildlife have moved in and adjusted to the house and our commotion. We've had hummingbirds at the feeders consistently and now the tiger lilies are blooming, which they also love. We even had a hummingbird in the garage and Cliff had to pick it up and take it outside because it couldn't figure out how to get out and was getting tired of flying around. Can you believe he was actually holding a hummingbird in his hands? He let it go outside and it flew away unharmed.
On Friday, I saw a Baltimore Oriole in our yard for the first time ever. I've never had an Oriole. We have also had lots of bluebirds in the yard and I never saw them at our old house. Saturday when I looked out the kitchen window there was an Oriole AND a Bluebird sharing the bird bath. It was such a colorful sight! Today, there were four orioles and half-dozen goldfinches out there chasing eachother around the purple coneflower and black-eyed susans that I planted along the end of the shed.
Last night Cliff and I froze over 12 pints of sweet corn and will probably have more to do next week. We also hope to pickle both green beans and beets this weekend! We still have weeks (maybe months?) of tomatoes, carrots, and squash to look forward to yet this fall and although I'm really looking forward to November (Baby!), I hope to savor the summery freshness of these next two months while it lasts!
Sure makes me miss Summer and look forward to the Vernal Equinox on March 20! On that day, day and night are exactly the same length of time and after that date, the days start getting longer and longer until the Summer Solstice, when we have the longest day of the year. Yay for longer days!