It has been a record-breaking winter on several fronts.
The longest cold-streak in decades. Temperatures hitting the lowest lows and lowest highs.
But the sun came out in recent days, and it reignited the outdoors lover in me that had been hiding somewhere deep inside, shivering beneath a layer of blankets.
With the sun shining and the sky a crisp, clear blue, my husband and I felt a rush of optimism. The snow was melting, spring was coming. It's time to get ready to garden.
At the peak of that rush, my husband and I bought all the seeds for our new and improved garden. We nabbed the old favorites - green beans, carrots, tomatoes, sweet peppers, a variety of lettuce. But this year we're doubling the size of our backyard garden, making plenty of room for a bunch more veggies. With no real clue what will grow well in our soil, this only being our second year trying out our green thumbs, we went a bit crazy, just to experiment. Broccoli, squash, potatoes, peas, cucumbers; we were like a couple out of control vegetable freaks, grabbing packets of seeds and tossing them into our basket.
"Do you think these will grow?"
"Who knows, toss 'em in."
But it wasn't just us that was affected by these spring-like conditions. Even our dog is getting a touch of the spring fever. He hasn't been on a good hike in months.
It's just been too cold. And he's the kind of dog that needs daily exercise, of the hour-long walk variety. Even better would be a hike somewhere he can run, stretch out those leg muscles of his.
But without that release, he just sits inside all day, that excess energy building and building and building. Sometimes, he sits in front of the living room window, staring longingly at the road outside, whining under his breath. His nose prints cover the plastic that covers the window.
Since he can't actually get outside, he has begun to dream more and more. Almost every time he falls asleep, you can guarantee you'll hear the quiet shuffle of his twitching feet, or the loud bang as those feet slam into the wall.
He barks quietly, but in a high-pitched almost beeping sound. He sounds like a video game half the time. His ears twitch and his nose goes wild, the whiskers moving all over the place. I think he escapes this dreadful winter through his dreams.
On the warmest day this past week, my husband played with him out in the backyard. He looked thrilled.
His feet weren't cold, he wasn't sinking into three feet of fresh powder. He could run, his tongue lolling out of his mouth, ears pulled flat against his head. He radiated joy.
With the sun shining these past few days, the smell of spring in the air as the snow melts, it's almost cruel that it's only March 15. I know another snowstorm will hit us before this winter breathes its last, freezing cold breath.
I'm just ready for a little green amidst all this white.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Chocolay Township resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.