“Winter had lasted so long that it seemed it would never end.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote those words in her book, The Long Winter, a novel about enduring the winter of 1880-81 in the Dakota Territory. In the book, Ingalls Wilder describes a winter so cold, snowy and relentless that the Chicago and North Western Railway was forced to stop trains from running until the spring thaw finally left the tracks passable again. This left their hometown of Tracy with precious little food or fuel and compelled her future husband, young Almanzo, and his friend, Cap Garland, to risk their lives on a perilous trip across the prairie in search of a store of wheat that they weren’t sure even existed and delaying her family Christmas until May.
In much of the country, this has been a persistent winter too, one for the record books with the North Country being no exception. As I began writing this, I’d just finished cleaning up from the recent storm (and I’m fairly certain that my road and driveway are going to be drifted shut when I get home from work this evening). What’s more, it looks like it’s going to be another below zero night tonight. I can’t remember a previous March where temperatures have fallen to 10 degrees below zero (or more) in the morning. Can you?
Many of the winter sports enthusiasts that I know are jumping for joy, excitedly anticipating a season of spring downhill and cross-country skiing and snowsledding, while most of the gardeners I speak with are singing the blues, longing to get their hands into the soil and dreaming of daffodils, tulips, rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries. And, even if it is snowing or below zero outside, they are preparing for the growing season right now.