Leap Day

By , February 29, 2016

Today is Leap Day, the every-four-years catch-up day that keeps our Gregorian Calendar ticking along at a fairly steady clip.

Traditionally, it’s a day that women can propose to men (thankfully, this restriction appears more and more quaint in Western society!). People born on this day celebrate in special ways, like a 60 year old guy on the radio who plans to throw himself a “Quincenera”. I know of a few people planning to get married today, which kind of takes the pressure off remembering one’s anniversary . . . or does it?

Here on the homestead, it seems a bit apt, because we find ourselves trying to look before we leap. Today feels like a jumping off point into who-knows-what?

Specifically, we’re anxious to know what will happen weather-wise in the coming month.

While we’ve had a pretty mild winter and early spring, much like last year, we hesitate to assume that this weather will continue. Michelle has planted seeds for this year’s garden, and they’re starting to sprout. She’s planning the new garden, and renovating the green house. All these activities make us look to the future, to try to figure out when we should take the next steps.

We’ve had cold snaps in March, April, even May in former years. We know better than to grow complacent in the face of Nature. Still, as the days pass in warmer than usual mildness, we begin to hope.

For me, the big question of the moment is when to tap the birch trees. I want a good supply of birch sap this year for wine making, and possibly for other soft drinks (see “Moonshine”). I always have trouble choosing the optimal moment to tap our trees, as spring in Southeast Alaska tends to be even more volatile than elsewhere. I’m beginning to doubt we’ll see any more days of below freezing nights and above freezing days—I feel like the bottom has dropped out of that equation. In the past I’ve tapped trees in March and April. This year, I may be too late in the first days of March.

All around us, spring seems all but unstoppable. Plants are beginning to bud out, the garlic’s sprouting in the garden, I’m beginning to feel as if the old rhythms can’t be relied on as we once did. It feels like we’re making our way partially, if not completely blind. We know the peril of trying to predict our weather, particularly in March (see March Comes in Like a . . . Goat and Rumex Super Goat Res (Sorry About the Goat Thing)).

This year’s no different, perhaps just more so? It’s Leap Day, but we don’t know which way to jump.

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