Michelle has started planning this year’s garden. I see this as a symbol of indomitable hope, as the homestead remains deep in the grip of bitter winter weather. Looking at her notes and journals from last year, she announced that we’re 6 to 8 weeks away from the herring runs.
Her statement took me aback. What could she mean, that we’re two months at most from the first busy season of our homestead year? How could that possibly be?
I tried to put the time estimate in perspective. Six to eight weeks used to be the common waiting period for mail order goods to arrive. “Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery” used to be the common precautionary phrase in catalogs and television advertisements. Perhaps that’s still true? To me, as a child, waiting for something special to arrive in the mail, 6 to 8 weeks seemed an eternity. Now that I’m 50, I realize that it’s the time span between my birthday and Christmas each year. In other words, barely time to turn around twice.
But no—the herring runs can’t possibly be that close! Storms continue to howl down Lynn Canal from the heart of the Yukon. Yesterday reached 25°, quite balmy by current standards. Ice binds the land, encrusts the beaches, and flows from the cliffs. True, sunlight lingers noticeably longer each day. We’re no longer rising in the dark most mornings. Spring advances in an astronomical sense, but promises little else.
And yet, it will come, as it always does. The dwindling wood pile may yet see us through to the warmer months. Buds will swell, songbirds will return, the humpback whales will appear once again.
I know these things will happen. But I feel like it’ll never happen. I feel like it has always been winter, and always will be. Hopefully I’ll feel more optimistic soon—far sooner than 6 to 8 weeks.