What you're looking at right there is the high temperature for today. Considering we started out this morning at -15 F, this is rather balmy. Some places nearby hit -24. It was the talk of the town today (both real and Facebook towns.) But don't be fooled. If you've been paying attention at all over the past couple weeks, you probably noticed that things are already changing.
No one ever believes me when I tell them that the buds are doing things at this time of year. People look at me like I've lost my mind. But I wouldn't make something like this up. All you have to do is use your eyes and look around you a little and you can see it too. But it's January, you say. It's 15 below zero outside and two feet of snow cover the ground, you grumble. It's nothin' but a bunch of sticks out there, you say. You just want to see something alive and growing. Right?
Okay then, here ya go.
This fragrant Daphne is a woody shrub that blooms with sweet smelling, small purple flowers in late March/early April. I've lived in this house for seven years and last week was the first time I bothered to pay attention to what this plant might be up to in January. Moving on down the Rhody... (groan)
I know, I know...I should probably be protecting my shrubs better. What can I say, my landscaping tactics tend toward the "survival of the fit-enough". You can kind of tell the weather by how curled and pathetic the leaves of this rhododendron are on a given day. The colder and drier the tighter they curl. But look! Those are, in fact, baby buds!
Can you guess......? It's the one and only Syringa vulgaris (Common Lilac, I just wanted to say vulgaris). Yes, it will need another 4 months before it thinks about blooming. But look at that! You can't deny that those are, indeed, buds! I've been watching them for a couple weeks now and I've noticed how they've changed in size. Even in January. And you thought everything was all sleepy and quiet. Ha! No way, Mother Nature's got business to do!
This is not a joke. This is not photo-shopped. Everyone knows that pussy-willows bloom very early in the Spring. But did you ever stop to notice that it's busy right now? In January!? I know, crazy! Look at those little white toes peeking out already!
Of course, these are minuscule signs of things to come months down the road. I know that the longest, dreariest part of Winter will be here soon. But those are the days and weeks that make me long for Spring. Longing for something feels pretty good every now and then. Until then, I'll be looking through frozen windows, sneaking up on snowbound tractors and following snowy trails like a Winter Ninja.