This has been a very long winter because it started in November and any break - like a January thaw - was pretty weak and short. But on March 1st I noticed that our pussy willow was showing the end of winter. Little fuzzies were beginning to emerge from the buds. And at the Edible Gardening meeting on February 28th several people reported having seen their first red winged blackbird. When I was a kid I always looked for the first robin as a sign of spring but some robins stay around during the winter. My wife's records for 2001-2008 show sightings of robins in all months of the year, although not necessarily every year. The numbers are less in the winter than the rest of the year, but they are here. But apparently the appearance of the red winged blackbird is a sure sign.
Another hopeful sign is that the dawn is noticeably earlier and dark noticeably later as the days pass.
So it is time to prepare for outdoor gardening. I am setting up a table in the cellar with fluorescent lights above for starting more seedlings than I have in the past. I think I have washed (and rinsed with a little bleach) enough little pots and six packs for all the edibles that I want to start, along with a lot of milkweed in connection with my wife's Monarch butterfly garden activities. [I never knew that Monarch butterfly larva only eat milkweed. No milkweed, no Monarchs.]
All my seed packets have arrived now - from four different sources. By the time I get them started the snow will be gone from the garden and the soil will be workable and it will be warm enough to be out there. I hope to see lots of other people doing the same.