This is one of my favorite weeks of the year. The same thing happens every year, but it always comes at a different time. It’s that subtle, undefinable moment where winter gives way to spring. Things shift somehow, ever so slightly, and winter’s grip loosens. It’s like the moment when the tide turns; hard to mark exactly, but all of a sudden things change and the water recedes instead of rising. Low tide is a long time coming, but it is inevitable.

It’s still a long way toward spring, but this week I can feel it coming. I can feel it in the sunshine, hear it in the birdsong, see it in the puddles forming from all the melting snow. The buds are swelling, and the world is awakening again. Granted, the puddles re-freeze every night and the black ice makes walking anywhere an exercise in balance, but the fact that the puddles are there in the first place means that the end is in sight.

I love living in a place with a real winter. There is nothing quite so magical as watching spring come creeping back into a frozen landscape. It makes the cold and the wind and the dark of winter so worthwhile; it’s simply a backdrop for the brightness of spring. These periods of transition are beautiful to behold, and I have missed them living in places with gentler seasons.

This year, it’s been a particularly dramatic changeover. Last Thursday, it was -11 degrees outside. This Thursday, it’s supposed to be 45. That’s a 56 degree change in temperature in a week! I’m not sure that we’ve had a day above freezing since before Christmas, and now we suddenly have grass poking out from beneath the snow. Granted, it’s last years’ grass and it’s looking rather sad today, but all this slushy snowmelt is feeding the green of springtime. I know winter will be back again before we’re done, but it won’t stay for long; its days are numbered.

If I were gardening this year, I’d be starting tomato plants indoors in a few weeks to be ready for planting out in May. Somehow that really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? This last month of winter can feel so long, and yet already the tide has changed. This week, it became spring.

Happy springtime!