Polar vortex makes it tough, but sunny days bring hope.
It’s been a cold, cold winter. While I haven’t been thinking about the specifics of gardening like I was dreaming and planning for this time last year, the past few weeks I can’t stop thinking about being outside. I don’t even need summer just yet, but a warm and dry spring day sounds like the best thing for me. You’ve probably heard about the polar vortex. It hit Milwaukee hard and we’ve been stuck in a deep freeze on and off for the past few months. There have been consistent nights with -20 degree wind chill, weather advisories, tons of snow that never seems to get the chance to melt, and short, grey days. I’ve been staying active and mostly positive, but this is really testing my patience. We’ve had cold, bitter wind but also sunny, clear skies. This has made me turn a corner and I am less resigned to the idea of winter now, and more focused on moving on.
More than anything I want to get my hands dirty and read a book on a lawn chair. I’m not thinking about what varieties of tomatoes I’m going to try, when to start seeds, what new flowers I want to see bloom. I don’t really have specific plans currently; I just want a garden to play in. It doesn’t matter what’s in it – I’ll take almost anything right now – though I put a lot of effort into this a few months back [see previous, fall post]. I’m mostly dreaming about riding my bike, roller skating along the trail, and turning the compost. I want to open a window. I want to enjoy the stars from my balcony with bare feet and a cat on my lap. Even though I’m getting out WAY more than last winter and I’m being active by roller skating indoors 2-3 times a week and doing a light workout at home every other night, I’m STILL getting a touch of cabin fever.
The only plants I’ve been focused on lately are my houseplants. I want to make sure they’re consistently watered with this dry, heated air, yet I don’t want to over water (they should have a bit less this time of year because of their slight dormancy). I need to give a lot of attention to the amount of light they are getting – and evenly. There’s been a lot of new growth, a number of succulent divisions that are taking off on their own, and I’ve had lovely winter blooms from one of my largest succulents. It’s been giving me tiny pink blooms since the new year. I received a beautiful white poinsettia for St. Nick that was a greatly appreciated gift. It gave me a lot of beauty over the cold of December when little else was growing. I’ve been able to pick up a few small cuttings and divisions from others’ house plants, which is getting me excited for anything that I haven’t grown before. The ones I am most looking forward to are the cacti. I picked out a handful of different ones (ouch!), including a dark and craggy one, a smooth one with small bunches of spikes along the hard edges (it’s very geometric), and a good sized one that was already growing some small roots when I picked it out. I can’t wait to see these flourish, and for all of my succulents to get the intense summer light they (and I) have been craving.
Note: Please excuse the quality of these photos. They were taken with my new Windows phone and they don’t offer the richness that my old phone or digital camera can offer. As usual all can be clicked on to be viewed in more detail. I took some time off of publishing for January and February and am looking forward to sharing more writing this spring. You can find the prompts for this combined post here and here.