The snow and ice are melting. The ground is starting to thaw - you can actually see brown underneath. Wait! The temperature dipped below freezing overnight and there is a thin dusting of snow this morning - which changed to rain in the afternoon - which refroze overnight again. Welcome to the Ides of March or, as we call it here in the Northeast, Mud Season. Only the foolhardy do not keep a pair of boots beside the door and give up all hope of shampooing the rugs for at least another few weeks.
This is a very hard time for the gardener in us. There is really not much you can do in the garden right now. You can do a little bit of clean-up from winter like picking up pieces of downed branches and raking up the leftover brown leaves and foliage from autumn. With the chance of below freezing temperatures overnight and ground that turns to mush during the afternoons all you can do is look out of the window and plan ... or is it?
What you can do is start your seedlings indoors. A few packets of seeds, a seed tray, some potting soil and a window that gets good light, or a grow light, and you can start nurturing the garden that you see in your mind's eye, the one you have been dreaming of all winter. Over the next 6-8 weeks as you keep them warm, moist and well-lit, just the smell of the soil and the feel of it on your hands brings a sigh of contentment to your lips. If you are still in need of a shot of spring, visit your local garden supply shop which has been tempting gardeners since right after Valentine's Day with garden equipment, green houses and the heady aromas of hyacinth and daffodil bulbs that have been forced for the Easter season.
If winter was the time of planning and dreaming, mud season is the time to start taking baby steps in the direction of your dreams. Take those ideas and visions out of your head and put them on paper. Make a sketch. Do some research online. Start your seedlings. Want to write a book? Start with an outline, a plot line, or even just a working title. Visit an art store and look at the rainbow of paint colors. Go to a craft shop or yarn store and sink your hands into the luscious bins of soft, inviting fibers and textures. Choose the "seeds" that will grow into what you desire and then nurture them, keep them warm and well-lit (meaning, keep your attention on them). Little by little you'll begin to see little sprouts come up: a word, a phrase, a chapter; the first brush strokes; the first row of stitches. Before you know it, the time will come to take the tiny plants out of their seed trays and put them out into the world to grow into beautiful things.
So what are you waiting for? Put on your boots and get out there!
And so it is.