Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Springtime In Alaska

We might actually get one. Who can believe that?

Up to now I've been skeptical. It has been SO cold this spring - following an unusually cold winter and an unusually cold summer the year before (which was in fact so freakishly cold that I didn't even attempt to garden... not even sweet basil, which grows for me as if nuclear-powered, and for which I have many uses and much demand). The weather was just so chilly and unpleasant that I couldn't bring myself to make the slightest attempt; I love my sweet basil plants and I would've felt like I was torturing them, trying to get them to grow in that weather. Even arugula - which grows like a weed - would have been faint and timid in the chill. And attempting tomato plants would have been cruel and unusual punishment. At any rate, as a result of all this, I feel like I've had winter for about the last 19 months.

Mind you, I love my winters. But even I don't love them 12 months a year. I don't tolerate hot muggy weather very well (despite the fact that I used to make my living grooming racehorses on the east coast, where hot and muggy are de rigeur. Somehow I managed not just to tolerate that, but to tolerate it whilst doing a manual labor job 50 hours a week. Don't even ask me.) I spent most of my youth in Colorado, where the summers are often quite hot, although very rarely are they muggy even for a short period of time. I'm no longer accustomed even to that, however.... since moving to Alaska I've grown used to cooler summers. Nowadays, I (and many of my cohorts up here) have been known to whine and complain if the temperature approaches 80 degrees. My friends still in Colorado (when coaxing me to visit) are inclined to try to tempt me down by saying, "But it's a dry heat." To which I usually reply, "So's the inside of my oven, but you don't catch me wanting to spend the summer in there, either."

At any rate, you know it's bad when I, of all people, am craving some hot weather. But here I am, wishing it would pop up 30 degrees over night and stay there until fall. I assure you I never have such thoughts - but this year, I catch myself thinking this all the time. It's very strange.

However, this week there has been a wee glimmer of hope. All last week - and early this week - I had temps 20 to 25 degrees colder than normal at night (and only slightly less unseasonable in the daytime). But in the last few days - and I hesitate to mention this, lest I jinx it - the night time temps have been nearly normal. All afternoon I've been hearing loud thuds as the ice accumulated on my roof is finally starting to slide and fall. Yesterday afternoon, coming home from work, I drove with my window rolled down. The air had a round, fresh, balmy feel, tender and sweet as a ripe peach, as if we might in fact experience spring this year after all. In addition to which - and here I know you'll think I'm being rash - I am starting to hope that my lambs won't instantly flash-freeze as they are being born.

There's still snow on the ground, of course, but Sunday we rotated the ewes to their lambing pen, in which there is a nice barn for them to birth in. By "we" I really mean S&R, since I spent the wee hours of Sunday morning in the ER having a kidney stone, and S&R were pretty certain that I didn't need to be trying to help. Apparently the combination of exhaustion and a dilaudid hangover combined to make me sound truly alarming on the phone, so by the time I got over to Wildwood (after a nap), S&R had taken matters into their own hands and had already moved the ewes. It was rather dear, actually; I had brought over a large cooler to be modified for use as an insulated stock tank, which had necessitated me moving a dog crate from the bed to the cab of my truck temporarily. I would start to move the cooler or the dog crate and suddenly I'd be staring at my empty hands, thinking: "Wow, it just evaporated! How did THAT happen?" since S or R would have stepped in and quickly plucked the offending item from my grip, tsk-ing and telling me I didn't need to be doing THAT right now. They do take good care of me, I must say.... and at any rate, I was still too bemused by sleep deprivation and a faint narcotic echo to protest; by the time I could formulate any sort of demur, it was already too late: The job had been done.

So now I am looking forward with cautious optimism to the possibility of lambing in reasonable temperatures. The first calculated due date would be this coming Saturday, although normally you allow a fudge-factor of five days either direction, so it could be as early as NOW, or as late as next Thursday.

I used to feel like spring was here when I saw robins, or when the lilacs started to bloom. But any more, I feel like it's spring when the first lambs are on the ground, peering from behind their mothers' woolly flanks, gamboling about on their long cunning legs, shaking their little floppy ears, pronking about with the other lambs - of which, I sincerely hope, there will be many. The goats are due about the same time, so Wildwood will, if all goes well, be inundated with little four-legged babies starting in less than a week.

I love spring.


MaskedMan said...

Lambs. Oh, yeah... Nothing like a bunch of fluffy little gangly hopping rascals to herald spring!

I love the air, early in spring. It's often cold, but there's something in the air that smells of promise and life. Jen hates it when I drive with teh window down, letting the cool, damp spring air fill the car; she's not one to enjoy the cold. But still I do it... I can't resist the scent of life to come.

Kidney stones again... Yeouch! Sympathies, and I hope that you passed them all in one go.

Dragon43 said...

Kidney stones suck rocks. ;) Been there, done that. You quit doing that.
Drink the water, cut back on the building block, mine was leafy greens, cola the next time, Not fun.

Play with your babies.... Summer will come....

Holly said...

ACK! Kidney stones! ACK! They hurt! I have personally never had one (looks around for the nearest wood to knock on), but I know enough women and men that have ... I don't want one! My deepest sympathy to you.

What great friends you have to pitch right in.....I am sure it is a reciprocal thing and that you do for them also.

It is warming up as I was driving around looking for likely photo victims, I had the heat on high and both windows down.

goatgirl said...

OW kidney stones. My son did that once in China. He thought he was dying as a taxi driver drove all around to get him to a westernized hospital. I heard the other day that apple cider vinegar helps with that. Is that true, or an old wives tale?
We have lambs here. Three bottle lambs. Tons of work but so worth it when the jump around the yard with all four legs in the air.
Happy Spring!
BTW we just finished our Iditarod unit in the four grade class. What fun. Yeah Lance....but I always pick for Martin as my musher.

goatgirl said...

Wow that comment I made was full of mistakes. As an educator, I hate that. That's what I get for typing fast and not rereading.
Happy Spring, again!