The date is May 12th. Mother’s Day is past. Spring is here… or is it? Apparently not. Today we have 12-inches of heavy, wet snow. I am caught between pleasure and pain. I am pleased with the arrival of moisture; I am in pain that spring eludes us. The gardening catalogs arrived the first week in January, and at that point I began to dream and plan. A month passed and then another. Thanksgiving’s snow and ice held fast and refused to melt. April looked promising. The nurseries began to advertise and showcase their planting stock. My mouth began to water. The weather turned warmer. Hopefully, I planted my hops tubers the first of May.
Hope is such a hopeless thing.
I am not a spring chicken. I should know better. To plant anything in Colorado before June first is to have the gods holding their sides in laughter. Driving home in the sleet from Denver yesterday, I thought of an Haiku poem that I had just read. The book was Zen Inspiration edited by Miriam Levering. The Japanese poet was Yosa Buson (1715-1783). The 17-syllable poem (17 syllables in Japanese, fewer in English) reads: Short nap- / waking / spring was gone.
On my first reading, I thought that the poem was about the brevity of spring – summer comes too soon. Today, with 12-inches of fresh snow on top of my buried hops tubers, I am thinking that not only does summer comes too soon, but also winter lingers too long.
Eager to move forward after a long winter, we Coloradoans drool over the gardening flyers. Driving past the nurseries, our hearts leap up at the sight of bedding plants and hanging planters. And something akin to lust makes us lose our minds. Hearts beating wildly, we buy before the recommended planting date for our zone. Buying early doesn’t work for those of us who hedge our bets, but it works for the nurseries: they sell to us once, wait for a freeze, and then they sell to us once again. Ching ching!
Today I refreshed my memory as to the freeze dates. The best website for learning your planting dates is <http://davesgarden.com/guides/freeze-frost-dates>. Reach the site, plug in your ZIP code, and Dave will give you the straight-skinny. In my case, Dave wrote, “on average, your risk of frost is from September 7 through June 16. Almost certainly, however, you will receive frost from September 20 through June 1.” Westcliffe’s average number of growing days is 83. Far too few.
Based on Dave’s recommendation, I can gamble again in another two weeks, or to be safe I should wait another month. To look at me, you wouldn’t think I would be much of a gambler, but I’m giving it another go on June 1. Meanwhile, I’ll write a transitional Haiku:
Flurried snow flakes fall / dotted Swissing late spring green / baptismal waters.
My daughters and I visited the Denver Museum of Science and Nature this past weekend, and I highly recommend their Maya exhibit which runs through August. Blood-letting was one of their key avenues for placating the gods. I trimmed back wild roses last week and doing so, I scratched myself badly. Either my blood-letting wasn’t copious enough, or the gods were displeased that I was brutalizing the roses.
Some days you just can’t win.