This week we bid winter adieu and spring hello. Tonight we will eat the last of our 2018 pumpkins, stored in the cellar since October. Yesterday the frogs arrived and began courting like mad in the pond while high in the trees the Alpine woodland larks began their melodious courting calls.
Roman Hermann, young wine producer in Graubünden, showed me his new pond and waterfalls high up on the hillside, at the top of the vines in Fläsch, when I visited recently, part of his impressive efforts to create a healthy environment around his vines.He suggested that my frogs might be the rare yellow-bellied Alpine ones. They are very quiet and shy, showing up only in the chilly March pond long enough to lay eggs – if my footfalls are too loud they duck out of sight. I try to imagine how I will get a chance to see one’s belly.
The little helicopters that wafted down from the maple tree in October and November this morning began seeding themselves everywhere, in the lawn, throughout the flower and vegetable beds. My heart stops when I think of the weeding sessions ahead.
Adieu is like March, a matter of swinging doors
Just as “adieu” in Switzerland can mean hello or goodbye, or mostly “take care, see you again”, winter never leaves for good in March and spring is capricious in its understanding of “arrival”.
Today I am pruning apple trees (thank you, RHS in England for useful tips), but by Sunday we will have snow again. The frogs will hide in the mud pockets of the pond or in the ivy at the edge, or hop back into pipes that guide water from the bisse into the pond. Happily, the bisse, our glacier and underground river water that serves as an alpine irrigation channel, flows on, winter and summer.
Next week I’ll be plucking tiny maple trees from the ground. Note to self, make time for weeding in addition to pruning a few old bits from the shrubs, to give them breathing space.
The good news is that the lark will just keep singing from the treetop. I can’t tell if there are two of them; I think so. One is very fond of a treetop perch that overlooks the vineyards of Miège, Sierre, Salgesch and Leuk, with a spectacular view of the Alps and Rhone valley. Can you blame him for singing? Out in the garden, I’m singing a popular traditional Irish song, The Lark in the Morning; this is the Dubliners’ version of this catchy tune from a long time ago.
Be sure to look up this week. If you’re lucky you might see a sunrise like the one we had early in the week.