Happy 26 degrees folks. Today was a scorcher for March! It was also vernal equinox yesterday, and if you look at the night sky you can see both Jupiter and Venus!
It’s been great to revel in the t-shirt and shorts weather, especially now when more outside jobs are coming back into the picture at the farm. I’ve spent much of the last 2 weeks pruning apple trees, which I did not know how to do until, well, about 2 weeks ago.
Lorne took Jaye and I around the old orchard (with some trees 60+ years old!) to show us how to tell different varieties apart and how to prune each kind. I found out that Mac trees have tons of buds on them which need to be thinned so the apples have space to grow, and Spy trees have more sparse buds but grow suckers (new growth) like mad and the branches themselves are what need to be thinned out. My arms are a bit sore but already turning brown from being out in the sun with the pruning shears. I also managed to take home a few of the trimmed branches for Scampi, who likes to gnaw on them and eat the bark.
The warm weather means that plants are budding (and in some cases, leaves and flowers have appeared) which is nice but also worrisome, especially when it comes to the apple trees. They have fruit buds on them that are starting to open already, but if we get a hard frost they’ll be damaged and may end up growing a poor apple crop. I suspect this is also an issue for many other plants, so let’s hope that the weather stays even for the next while.
The plants definitely haven’t been the only ones affected by the unseasonable warmth. In the past week I’ve seen 2 wild rabbits, and all kinds of birds seem to have appeared out of nowhere. A few days ago while we were out pruning, a pair of sandhill cranes flew overhead towards the lake, and there are Eastern bluebirds hanging around the orchard checking out the houses that have been set up for them. People in my neighbourhood have been out alot more and some kids down the street set up a lemonade stand on the corner a couple of times last week.
I’ve really been missing the farmhouse lately – with it being so warm it’s hard to stay inside and not enjoy the weather (even if it is indicative of climate change). It was so great having acres and acres of trails and forest behind the house. On days off I would often just get up early and go walking in the woods, sit on a log for a while and watch the animals, or pick raspberries I found along the trails. When winter started and I moved back into town, it was hard to imagine not having such easy access to that kind of natural environment. Winter itself is hard on me – cabin fever is imminent when you’re restless for social outings and exercise but are in hibernation mode and just don’t feel like braving the cold all the time. At the beginning of winter I was inspired by a friend and wrote myself a list entitled “winter survival strategy” and included on it everything that made me feel good and happy and how I could keep that going during the winter months.
I find it especially hard to stay motivated to leave the house during winter. Some days I never leave it at all, which ends up making me feel worse.So one of my survival strategy actions was “leave the house every day”. On work days that’s a given. But in winter on days off, I often find myself not leaving the house unless I have reason to – plans with friends, errands to run, meetings, etc. Last winter I achieved this leaving the house daily thing by taking myself out for coffee with a book if I had no plans. This winter I didn’t have much money and was planning my trip, so I made myself a budget, which doesn’t leave room for so many coffee or lunch outings.
But lo and behold, we got this wonderful stretch of sunny weather! I didn’t need a reason to leave the house because I could just ride my bike or sit out on the deck or in the backyard and enjoy the warmth. Consequently, I’ve also spent alot less money. This is how I came to realize a few days ago just how much city (and even suburban) life relies on & encourages consumerism. (You’re probably going “of course it does!” but bear with me). One of the things I was missing about the farmhouse and the natural areas around it was the simple fact that I didn’t need an excuse to go out and enjoy it; I didn’t need a destination. In the city, there are no natural areas (parks are a start, but most really don’t compare to the quiet, wild woodlands at the farm). So I had to give myself something to do if I wanted to go out, and naturally I turned to what was available to me: buying stuff. Last winter I bought so many things! Magazines, craft supplies, lots of books, new foods to try out. You can’t just be out in the world when you’re in a city. You can’t stop and read in a comfy cafe chair unless you buy food or drink. You can go for walks but are surrounded by shops and advertising and inevitably get sucked into looking at things you don’t need, or even really want. There aren’t many options for those of us who want to spend the day out and about without spending money. The only two I can think of are going to the library and visiting friends.
So the farm, with all its hundreds of acres, is more of a sanctuary to me since coming to this realization. I’m clearly not the only one who thinks so – people visit all the time to do retreats, go skiing, plant their own garden plots…and a huge array of animals are present on the property. I’ve seen turtles & deer, heard coyotes, and seen so many different birds – even rarer ones like wood ducks or the Eastern bluebird. A few days ago I was told there were wild leeks growing in the forest, and in the fall we harvested a giant puffball mushroom from the woods. This place is literally on the edge of the city (accessible by city bus!) and it’s teeming with wildlife. And you don’t have to part with a dime to enjoy it.
How often do you find yourself going shopping just for something to do? Does it satisfy your need for something to do? What would you rather be doing?