Posted by: highmountainmuse | March 12, 2009

Signs of Spring

A view of the east garden from the deck taken yesterday

A view of the east garden from the deck taken yesterday

Gardening update from 10,000 feet elevation… 


OK, so perhaps that is a bit of a joke. But look! In the garden’s lower left are the first signs of a raised bed peaking through the receding snow.  In that bed, are strawberry plants. Last year, they continued to grow, though we have never harvested fruit from them.  Our growing season is usually too short even for berries.  But the greens survive and continue to try every year… Amazing how persistent nature is, how strong our need to try…


And over in the front right, you can see the bare stalks of the top of the gooseberry bush.  This has done wonderfully here, relatively speaking.  We planted it for Forrest’s birthday four or five years ago, and it has more than doubled in size.  Though again, no fruit.  Well, look on the bright side (and there is always a bright side!): that’s why we don’t have many bears up here. 


Hmmm, a ways to go before digging my hands in the warm soil.  But I know it will come.  It is under there… waiting… I too can wait.  There is still plenty to do in the snow (like the big snow shoe climb up Pole Mountain, which the boys promised me they’d join me on this winter).

An open hillside, from where we find the first signs of spring.

An open hillside, from where we find the first signs of spring.

On my snowshoe today, I came across an open hillside, a place where the snow had melted off before any other. I went there looking for it, for the first signs of spring.  If they were to be found anywhere on the mountain, they would be there, in the protected cover of the Aspen trees, a direct south facing slope. A tiny little hot spot on the mountain, secret and secluded.  I have stopped here every year in the spring for the reminder that winter will end, that this mountain can harbor other seasons besides the six months of winter, for the hope of change and things yet to come.


It was there. I had to get down on my hands and knees to see it, but it was there.  A few blades of green grass.  The first dandelion leaves of the season, poking through a blanket of dried and worn grass that managed to grow up here last summer.  There was new life on the mountain. 

The first blades of green grass (look closely, there to the left of the stick)

The first blades of green grass (look closely, there to the left of the stick)

The first dandelion leaves of the year peeking through

The first dandelion leaves of the year peaking through

Up here, perhaps we just need to look a little closer. Signs are a little more subtle. If we hope to have a true feel for the land, we need to create an intimate relationship with mountain, to lie quietly with our head to the ground to feel her, understand her, learn her hidden secrets. But if we search hard enough, work long enough, believe strong enough, it will come. We will find what we are looking for.



  1. A MESSAGE TO DON. Don, if you are out there and reading this: I’m not sure how to reach you, so I’ll leave you a note here and hope for the best. Cindy, who has been joining this blog, got a message to me that she has been concerned about you and wanted to check in with you. However, she’s been going through a pretty hard time herself (her husband is in the hospital undergoing a liver transplant). In all that she’s been going through, she still was concerned about you. I am amazed how thoughtful people can be, in this world which seems so hard sometimes.

  2. Gin .Thanks for the first signs spring nobody is happier to see spring than me.

  3. You’re a lovely writer, Gin. I enjoy your perspective from up the mountain.

    Down the mountain a ways and in town, it’s mud season. Here it has arrived on Winter’s doorstep, and I imagine it will stay all the way through Spring. I’m still new here, but I always get hopeful when it arrives. After being cased in snow, ice, and sub-zero temps, seeing mud and earth reminds me that the earth is opening up again. Out on walks, rivulets of water follow the trails, washing over the trails, and my boots make a sucking sound as I trek on.

    The earth soaks in everything from the season before, just as we’ve soaked in the solitude and quietness of a winter season. All of us in town are opening up again, welcoming the runoff of winter, and the promise of a new season. We begin to consider the beauty that lies ahead: old friends who will return with the summer sun, new friends to be made, trails to be walked, photographs taken, and stories to be shared.

    I want to be loyal to winter, but with those first signs of a new season, my mind begins to wander and dream of what lies ahead.

  4. Gin, I love that there are signs of spring, even on your mountain so high!!! And as far as your offer of manure goes, trust me – if you were any less than a 14 hours drive away, we would probably use it as a good excuse to come pick up and shoot the proverbial s#&*t. 😉

    As I read more of your blog, I find that one of the things I appreciate most is your innate ability to infuse the world with the importance of just stopping and seeing. Life isn’t all about what we can get out of it – but what it gives to us. And those gifts are much more well received if we stop to look around. And like you said, that’s when we find what we are looking for. Thanks for that. This message came at a good time.

  5. It’s coming, Floyd! You’ll be home before you know it!

  6. Thank you, Cat. I showed the boys the Creede Rep blog, told them how excited I was to find it, and although I did not know you, they said they had met you. I’d like to say it’s a small world… but it’s not. It’s Creede! One more reason to love it.

  7. Karin, I suppose 14 hours is a bit too far for manure…But if you and Don change your mind, come visit.
    I forget to see sometimes. It is so important. To stop, quiet down, listen, and observe without judging. It is easier here, with few distractions, and silence so readily available. And still, I have to remind myself to slow down, take a deep breath, and look. Without fail, I can find something that wakes me up, makes me feel, makes me think.

  8. Your garden and mine look the same – white and blanketed in snow! The sun is slowly winning the battle…sometimes the wind chimes in too. They will beat back winter, so that the plants can grow.

    Strange to me that I saw a fly buzzing about over the snow on a cool day – and a bat the other night when there was no ‘evidence’ of bugs to my senses – are my assumptions wrong? Do you have bats at 10,000 ft?

  9. Hi Wendy, one of those flies made it out here, too. How? And yes, we do see the rare bat up here in July. A welcome sight, viewed from our deck in the late evening, when the bugs starts to get to us and the horses.

  10. Oh gosh. Grass! How exciting. Too many hard frosts up here in RanchLand even in summer to trust any plants to flower and fruit outside. So this summer I’m going to try some container gardening and will just bring the plants inside on cold nights. I’m going to try for tomatoes, snow peas, basil, and strawberries. Crossing my fingers.

    Grass! Yay!

  11. Our big sign that spring is coming is that the horses are shedding.

  12. And their shedding means horse hair on everything we wear, covering us as they slowly become uncovered…

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