January: All I think about is that first warm day, when I open the back door and walk outside in a T-shirt and Jeans, knowing that we may see more snow, but it will be the last snow. The catch is, that our last snow may fall in May or even June. Lilac buds may freeze, leaving burnt red ends on the branches, and it will be another year before they bloom again. Tree branches, their new leaves a hazard in heavy snow, are obviously not native to the area, and plunge onto lawns and streets.
I used to garden, but the cost and labor of replacing perennials every year or two, whose roots freeze-dry in our sand and shale ‘soil’ was staggering for an old lady. I had transplanted sage brush, Artemisia and cactus from the countryside when I first moved in – these flourish like weeds, and the landscaping now consists of plants that will survive on extra water only a couple of times a year. Bachelor buttons and poppy seeds from hardened survivors come up where they fall, blown by the wind; flax spreads like blue wildfire, cactus more slowly, but each adds its color briefly to a harsh year.