Punxutawney Félix says: Spring is here!

Yesterday morning Punxutawney Phil, the weather-prognosticating groundhog wizard, came out from wherever he hides in Pennsylvania, looked around, and saw his shadow, which means six more weeks of winter. That’s bad news for the people in in the Northeast and Midwest U.S., already buried under several inches of snow.  

At our ranch, we’ve received mixed signals from the Maya weather gods, as channeled through our gardener Félix. Yesterday morning he reported, with some alarm, that the windshield of his venerable 2000 Nissan Frontier pickup was iced over. Indeed, our rooftop weather station registered a low of 32 degrees, sometime Tuesday night, the first freeze we’ve had this winter. 

Other than this frigid tap, we’ve had a continually sunny, temperate winter, with temperatures ranging between the mid 40s and the low 80s. It’s the kind of boring climate pattern people in Chicago or New York would kill for this time of the year. 

Our new greenhouse: Still to come, shelves on three sides.

Still, this freeze is curious because February is usually the beginning our warming season, when the peach trees begin to flower and the greenery to stir, even though typically we can expect no rain until June at the earliest.

Despite the mixed signals from the Maya gods and the Pennsylvania groundhogFélix yesterday fired the opening gun of the 2021 gardening season. 

If it turns out half as successfully as the technicolor dreams in my head, it’ll be quite the show. 

Yesterday, our shipment of seeds from the U.S. arrived, and our new greenhouse, though not completed, is already filling up with trays of seedlings. Félix also is planting up the raised vegetable beds with various types of lettuce, carrots and such, including some varieties we’re trying out for the first time. 

In addition, we’ve built a metal frame over the milpa, an additional five-meter square planting lot in the back of the ranch, that we plan to cover with netting to protect the crops from the grasshoppers certain to hatch in a few months, from the eggs they left behind the past summer, and launch their destructive annual campaign. 

I’m excited about our rather grand gardening plans.  

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