Capricious weather

My mother called on this snowy morning, telling me to read a piece in the editorial section of the New York Times called “Chickens on the Loose.” In it, Verlyn Klinkenborg writes: “I come out of the house, and the birds are waiting at the chicken-yard fence like petitioners in some Russian novel but with boundless optimism instead of resignation and despair.” Perfect.

Verlyn Klinkenborg often writes on The Rural Life and The City Life, with a deft, beautiful touch. In February he wrote: “Here is the thing about mice. They have outrageous self-possession.”

Today, when I let out my own petitioners, they tried their best to stay in green patches, avoiding the wet snow. It fell fast, but with little accumulation, so they soon forgot about it and went about their usual business, scratching for food. One of the Dominiques trotted off to lay her egg in the rocks.

Cherisse and I were more concerned; we examined the buds on peach trees, and hoped the daffodils, bowed under with heavy snow, would rise again. The smaller bulbs were completely covered; only later in the day did their colors emerge through the disappearing white. The bulbs are programmed to weather an occasional late snowstorm. For the fruit producing trees, flowering early because of the exceptionally warm weather, a “seasonable” return to cold can spell disaster…killing the buds needed for summer’s fruit. As with most of gardening, we can only wait and see.

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