There’s a meme going around that says, “January was a tough year, but we made it.” Maybe you’re nodding your head in agreement. I know it was a long, strange month for us. It’s not that it was horrible weather or anything catastrophic happened. According to accuweather.com, the warmest day was 67*F on the 11th, and the coldest day was 26*F on the 19th. Many days were in the 40s. It was overall a dreary month, and it rained a lot more than it snowed. I went through a 4 foot by 4 foot round bale every 5-6 days with the sheep and goats, since they didn’t have anything else to do but eat hay and bellow at me when the level got below the “magic line” and the feeder was TOO EMPTY, OHMYGOSH WE’RE GOING TO STARVE! To be fair, there are 32 of them, and a lot of pregnant girls, so they were eating for two (or three). I’ll cut them some slack. So why was it such a long month? No specific reason, but it seemed like it would never end, and we would be stuck in a Groundhog Day-style repetition for all of 2020.
January was indeed a “tough year,” but we made it to February, and even though I know we have a ways until spring and warmer weather, the signs are there that spring is on the way. I take our farm dog, Lola, on a walk in the pastures every morning. She runs around sniffing at all the things that tickle a dog’s nose, and I’m usually lost in thought planning the day or mulling over a project/problem. Yesterday is when I first consciously noticed – the blackbirds and bobolinks were singing. Who knows how long they have actually been there, but I noticed them, and suddenly, I was able to see more signs of spring. The air has that wet, “warming up” smell; there is an oh-so-slight tinge of green under the dry brown-and-tan stalks of grass (and even a couple of brave dandelions!); many of the bushes and trees have a reddish glow as new branch growth emerges and the buds start popping out.
On a whim, and because I simply dislike wearing shoes and socks, even when sensible people would wear such things, I pulled off the shoes and socks to lay bare feet on the ground. Oh, my. My first thought was, “I think I just froze my feet to the ground.” At the risk of sounding like even more of a nature hippy than I may already be, I see why it’s called ‘grounding.’ The emotional effect of having my two feet firmly and directly planted on terra firma was intense. I highly recommend it – go find a green space, get those shoes and socks off, and ground yourself to this planet we’re on! If you’re so inclined, an internet search will yield links to both scientific and experiential evidences of the benefits of direct contact with the ground. As with anything on the internet, use your sense and judgment.
If the title of this essay puzzled you, it’s an homage to the late, great Joe Nuxhall, baseball player and announcer for the Cincinnati Reds. His broadcasting sign-off phrase was, “This is the ol’ Lefthander, rounding third and heading for home.” I’ve been a baseball fan as long as I can remember, and baseball is my other sure sign that spring is on the way. Pitchers and catchers for Cincinnati reported to spring training on February 15, and position players a few days later. As they warm up for the regular season, the weather does, as well. By the time they arrive in Cincinnati for Opening Day (yes, with capital letters – it’s a holiday!) on March 26, the signs of spring should be all over. Of course, I say “should” because this is Ohio, and Mother Nature can be capricious. Opening Day may be 60 degrees and sunny, or there could be a foot (or more!) of snow on the ground. The day could start at 60 degrees and end up with snow, or vice versa.
I haven't forgotten about lambing as another beautiful sign of spring on the farm, but that's a topic for another post!
I appreciate the slower pace and time to rest that winter gives, but as an April baby, always look to spring’s arrival. The longer days, greener views, warmer breezes all breathe life back into the stillness of winter. Until then, look for the signs – the birds, the trees, and the crack of ball against bat.