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The Last Windrow: Look for glimmers of hope

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There are some faint glimmers of hope out there during the “winter of our discontent.” As the sap freezes solid in tree trunks, wood ticks freeze their gizzards under the bark and water lines begin to seize, I see little cracks in winter’s armour that cannot be denied.

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As the Saskatchewan Screamers, Alberta Expresses and Polar Vortexes glide by my window, I think of those days as a farm boy when I would spy my dad heading for the tool shed to fix a part of a plow or a mower or a seeder. It was my clue that he knew that somewhere in the not-to-distant future he was going to need these parts working, and that meant spring was on his mind. 

We took plow lathes into the blacksmith for him to braze new edges. His shop would be brimming with broken equipment of every sort, waiting to be mended. 

On the way to town I saw that the willows lining the Floyd River were beginning to turn a brilliant red and yellow. Even though the temperature hovered just above zero, those hardy plants were starting to send sap to the ends of their branches whenever the sun slanted in their direction. 

I also noticed that some of the springs emanating from the banks of the river had opened just a slit during the middle of the day. 

The dark mornings that greeted us on the way to milking started to brighten, just a little bit. Instead of calling the cows in from the darkness, now one could see the black and white beasts waiting patiently just outside the barn door. The climb up into the silo to pitch silage down the shoot was done in dim light rather than pitch darkness. 

At the pit of winter, whoever ran through the cold to the mailbox at the end of the lane started bringing garden seed catalogs to the house. Lately, our mailbox is being overloaded with brightly colored seed catalogs showing green cucumbers, yellow sweet corn, red peppers and multi-colored gourds. 

Just touching those publications begins to warm the soul. You can’t wait to see the new varieties offered this year and you wonder if the vegetables you raise in your garden will really resemble those pictured on the cover. 

There are glimmers of the warmer time to come in the present. Sport and camping shows are springing up around the countryside and boat dealers are showing videos of people wearing swimsuits waterskiing and diving off floating platforms. 

Resorts and campgrounds are sending out brochures inviting folks to come and enjoy the great outdoors. Just the other day I dug out my fishing tackle box and started to untangle the tangles that built up over last summer’s fishing season. 

There is a twinkle of hope in doing that. 

The chickadees that are devouring our sunflower seeds during the cold have begun to sing their spring song on days when the sun provides enough heat to free their vocal cords. Squirrels have started to act more “squirrel-ly” lately and that can only mean one thing: Spring love is in the air and it’s time to get busy. 

Great horned owls have begun their spring hooting rituals and will shortly begin to build their nests. They know that cold can’t last. They’ve been through this before. 

So, as we collectively hunker down beneath our down comforters and tap our thermostats up just one more degree, remember — there are glimmers of hope that give us all the will to go on. We will outlast whatever this winter can throw at us and we will once again feel the warm sun on our faces, smell the fragrant southerly spring breeze and watch as the snow retreats from our rooftops. 

It is coming in just a little while. 

Hallelujah!

See you next time. Okay?

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