This is the time of year that is the most difficult for high latitude living. The sun is up by 6:30am. The birds are loudly busy. There have been seed catalogs filled with glossy green seduction in the post box every day for weeks. The chickens are talking more, attempting to leave the roost more, and some are tentatively starting to lay eggs again. There are whole hours when it’s not too cold for shirtsleeves. It feels like spring. The trees and birds think it’s spring. My body thinks it’s spring. It should be spring. Except for all this snow.
No, it is not spring, however much my body is hungering for it and grasping at any confirmation. I may be done with winter but it’s not done with me. There is no fresh garden produce and won’t be for a long time. I can’t even get to the garden beds; it will take weeks to melt these many feet of snow. The frost-free date for my town is May 15th, and no tomatoes or chiles or basil can be planted outside until then. Even the farm stands won’t be open for months — aside from the year-rounders who mainly sell meat and dairy this time of year.
The pantry and freezer are starting to get tiresome though they’re not empty. Maybe that’s even worse because I don’t want to eat any of it any more. I’m very tired of soup. And does anyone want a dozen jars of fruit preserve? No? Ah well. I sometimes think that spring fasting exists because people simply don’t want to eat those wrinkled apples and flavorless potatoes, and there is nothing else to eat at this time of year. Better to eat nothing, our ancestors might have thought. I rather agree.
We got our grain CSA share a few weeks ago. That’s fresh at any rate. Nutty heritage wheats and newly ground oatmeal. Injects bright new flavors into the daily bread. But my tongue wants bitter greens. My jaw wants something with crunch. My belly wants lighter fare. (My waistline concurs.) I want to smell dill and spring onions and wild garlic. I want to bite into a radish so sharp my nose breaks out in a sweat. I can’t wait for fresh maple syrup.
And it’s not just hunger for fresh food. I’m hungry for amnesty from the confines of winter. I want to go for a walk and not once be forced into a wet snow bank as the black trucks roar by. I want to open a window and not be anxious that, were I to forget to close it, the oil tank would be emptied. My hands itch to cut flowers for the table and snip fresh herbs for the evening meal. I absolutely need to sink my fingers into fragrant, moist earth and plant peas and calendula.
This time of year is painfully in between, a long tail of winter weeks marring the lengthening spring days. Neither one nor the other. The snow is grey and brown and gritty, slushy in the afternoon, ice in the morning. I want it to go away. It’s not about to. It’s still falling from the skies every few days. The buds on the trees are poised at the edge of eruption even as they’re encased in ice. I want to stand out there and cheer them on. It’s high time for a splash of color, a hint of sweet scent. The birds are up by 5am, frantically eating and posing, chasing each other out of claimed territory, trying to impress the un-impress-able bearers of the next generation. And they can’t even get down to business until there is some sort of food out there besides what is in the feeders. We’re all just waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
I am hungry for change. And I don’t even like change. The Snow Moon is always like this, a foot jiggling with impatience and annoyance. You can’t even sleep through it. There is too much light for hibernation. This is why I tend to think this is the Hunger Moon. There may not be physical hunger for you who are reading this. Most of you anyway. But there is metaphorical hunger for all of us — a hunger for spring.
©Elizabeth Anker 2021