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  • Writer's pictureMattie V.

The Slow and Sleepy Emergence of Spring

The saying goes that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. March 2022 in Northwestern PA was all lion.

April showers bring May flowers. But…what do April snowstorms bring?

I forgot how slowly and somewhat tumultuously, the Earth rises from its slumber up here. Even now in the second week of May, most of the trees are just starting to bud in a reverse-autumn palette - the brown and gray trees shooting out buds of red and orange slowly transforming into bright green leaves. And don't forget all of the flowering trees! We have two beautiful cherry trees in front of our building that have been in bloom for the last week and now it's the dogwoods' turn - my favorite!

I love the slow pace of this spring season. San Francisco's spring is in February when the magnolias in the botanical garden bloom, but you never had the full season - from bare trees to green. Even last year when I was living in Pittsburgh - some 100 miles south of here, spring rushed right in with open arms and blasted straight to summer within a week or two.

We've now spent the last 2 and a half months bouncing between spring and winter and the weather is finally evening out and steadily growing warmer.

While I can wax poetic about the slow spring season up here, the fact is that it has been a tough lesson in patience for me. For 10 years in San Francisco, my spring was warm sunny days by March and warmer weather to enjoy the outdoors - though, not after 3pm when the fog starts rolling in. April started with two days under 25 degrees F followed by warm days mid-week when I'm at home working all day and then cold, rainy and sometimes snowy weekends.

I’m am currently raising some seedlings (different peppers, a cherry tomato plant and zinnias) indoors that will go into buckets and raised beds outside when the days and nights are warmer. I planted some early/cold weather veggies outside back in March - snap peas, radishes, spinach, arugula and kale but their growth was slow due to freezing soil and harsh frosts late into April.

The longer and warmer the days, the more impatient I grow - I just want to get my indoor seedlings outside and to have more gardening tasks to give me something productive to do outside. But I have to remind myself that the outdoors are still a hostile place for my pepper and tomato babes and they need regularly warm temperatures to thrive!

And so every day that it is warm enough, my seedlings and I go outside to harden off (while I work). And when the sun gets to be too much or it’s too cold, we all come inside. This is a cycle that we will live in for the next 2 weeks until the nights stay above 55.

And I remind myself of all of things that I get to enjoy as mother nature stretches and yawns and greets the long hot summer while I wait. Like cycles of spring blooms and all of the weird ducks migrating through!

Pepper seedlings hanging outside in the heat
Pepper seedlings hanging outside in the heat

So what HAVE I been up to?

I let myself play video games as much as I wanted to (within reason) in April - the game of choice was Planet Zoo. But starting in May, I wanted to really push myself to just start making something - anything - to get back in the practice. I have so many fun ideas bouncing around in my head, I just wasn't sitting down to actually do them.

I pinpointed my biggest mental barrier to painting and creating - perfectionism. Perfectionism to the point where I am frozen - scared to make anything assuming it won't turn out how it is in my head or that it will just be downright bad and thinking that both of those are bad things. So instead of practicing - you know that thing that helps you get better - I let the perfectionism win and retreated and sulked.

This month is the month I say "Not Today, Perfectionsim!" and just make myself make art.

So much art. Knowing that a lot of it will be bad, but it's still practicing. Because by not practicing, I'm also stunting my skills or even going backward like losing my coordination and muscle memory which has shown in the few things I've done in the last 6 months.

Hopefully if you are also in this kind of slump you feel less alone and ignites some drive to just sit down and create.

For now, in place of artwork, I'll share some signs of spring from around here and more garden shots!

Oh! I almost forgot the best thing about this spring! There is a family of foxes living down the road. I've watched them play around in the evenings. Yesterday was the biggest sighting yet! 4 kits and mom all hanging out together.

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