Sure feels like it. Okay, so it's a whopping 37 degrees Fahrenheit out there, but after last week's snow and wind and bone-chilling cold, it's starting to feel positively balmy to me.
Perhaps I've lived in New England too long.
This is the time of year when I take my encouragement when I can. What a thrill it is to leave the office at 5:00pm and still have about half an hour before the sky goes pitch black! How wonderful to see the mountains of brown ice piled along the roadways begin to melt (even though I know we'll have more snow to come before winter is over). And with February on the wane, I start to think about my garden.
Despite the fact that I've lived in the Boston area now for nearly 9 years, I still have to fight my internal gardener. No, the planting season doesn't begin in late February. No, I can't put my tomatoes in by late March. In theory, I should be able to plant peas by St Patrick's Day, though every time I've tried, they've rotted in the cold, wet soil. When I first moved here and started asking questions of my new gardening friends, I thought one of them was pulling my leg when she said it's safe to plant tomatoes by Memorial Day. What? In Texas, that's when you start to harvest tomatoes, not plant them! This would take some getting used to.
But despite the short growing season and the late start, there are some real advantages to gardening in New England. For one thing, there's spring--a real spring with daffodils and tulips and saucer magnolias and dogwoods and everything erupting into color all at once. I can't describe the rush I felt when I first discovered the magnolias on Beacon Street in Boston, how they explode with fat pink voluptuous blossoms, so many that you can hardly see the trees for the flowers. Or how about the thrill of the first blossom on the tiny saucer magnolia tree that I planted? Or the delight in seeing that the daffodils and tulips I planted in my front garden come back year after year? That may hardly seem like rocket science to most gardeners, but in Texas, if you want your bulbs to come back the next year, you have to dig them up and put them in the refrigerator for at least six weeks, to give them a "real" winter. Who has time for that?
And don't forget about the summer. Here in Boston, my garden thrives on the sunshine. My poor Texas garden limped through summer, baked bone-dry every day in the torrid sun. Not to mention the fact that the torrid sun baked me, too, which made gardening more of a chore than a delight by the time July rolled around.
Oh, but I am getting ahead of myself, aren't I? There are still two matching mountains of ice either side of my driveway. My car is grey from road salt, and I still have heavy winter gloves tucked into the pockets of my coat. Winter's still here.
But spring is on its way.