Hope in the greening meadow grass needling through the brown blanket of last year's growth. Hope in the garlic, that planted last fall with shrugs and doubts, now slices through the straw. Hope in the rhubarb's red alien facing blinking out from warming soil. Hope in the wild leeks, those crazy edible garlic-onion clusters that cover the maple woods floor with a scent somewhere between wet feet and wet farts. Hope in the trout lilly, the song sparrows and the horny lunatic calls of a hundred different critters at dusk.
Besides hope, we've also discovered an impossible amount of dog poop. I guess we shouldn't be surprised, it's simple arithmetic, really: 2 Dogs + 1 Long Winter= 3 Times as Much Poop as Anyone Could Imagine in One Place at One Time. Spring cleaning has a whole new meaning.
But let's focus on hope, shall we? This weekend was the Alger County Conservation District's annual tree sale pickup. We nabbed 250 red pines and four apple trees for the homestead. The apple trees will join the two dozen wizened warriors that came with the farm to add some fresh faces to the old orchard. The pines, however, will go to a windbreak and Phase 1 of a reforestation plan on three acres of pasture.
It struck me today, looking back at our progress of new pines waving like little green flags, that the folks who ripped this farm from the forest 100 years ago are probably spinning in their graves right now. Clearing these fields must have broke the backs and spirits of generations before us, and here we are wiping away their history with a single planting bar and a sack of pines. Green spikes driven in an old Finlander's coffin.
The homesteaders aren't planted very far from this field either, just a mile away at the end of our road in the township cemetery. The possibility of a haunting has crossed my mind. Their tired, calloused ghosts may have understood us if perhaps we'd planted the trees for agricultural profit. "Treeeeeee faaarrrrrmmmm?" they'd inquire.
But I'm afraid not. We just thought there was too much field. Needs more woods, we said. More wildlife habitat for birds and stuff. They're not even planted in rows, just here and there, some single, some in clumps.
Looking across our red pine field my eyes lingered on the stone piles at the field's edge. There's was a season to pick rock, ours is one to plant pines. But it's not like we don't appreciate our fields. We do, and we're keeping the majority of them open for grazing sometime down the road. I appreciate the food our fields give us, but I could feast on a forest forever.