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Everyone proclaims that spring is coming! Store ads, billboards, and blogs are infectiously optimistic. Ten seed catalogs sit on my coffee table. However, when I look around I see that the sun is still lower on the horizon, creating long shadows when I take photos. The nights are long and cold and the days punctuated by vicious winds. The grass is dead and my flower beds, brown. Robins have not returned. Besides, my electric blanket is still set at 8. The groundhog may determine if spring is coming by his shadow, but I know the seasons are changing when that blessed lighted dial moves up or down.

Wait! Is that a spot of green in the front flower bed? How can that be. This is Wyoming. This is January in Wyoming.

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On closer inspection I see that my great nemesis, the common mallow, is indeed sprouting already. What durability, what a symbol of persistence and overcoming all odds. I have seen this side of the mallow many times before. When I try to pull even the smallest mallow, the long tap-root resists and usually wins our battle. The plants seem to be welded into the soil with roots of steel. I end up attacking with the hoe–hack, hack, hack–and even then I sometimes lose the battle. Seeing this pesky weed so determined to grow in January makes me feel a new respect for them, but not for long. Hack, hack, hack.

Oh my, is that another spot of green in the flower bed? After pushing away the dead leaves I find an upstart hollyhock. This must be a second year hollyhock, which comes not from the seed but from last years roots. The persistence of this plant is welcome. Without such determined and self-sufficient flowers, I would have to plant fussy stuff that requires work.

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And wait a minute. Last night the sky was still light past 5:30 P.M. I am starting to see a trend. Spring is coming. The slow change,  instigated by the tilting of the earth back towards the sun, is underway. However, winter has not retreated. It is battling against spring for a few more months and will rise up with several more snow storms and maybe even sub-zero temperatures before spring warms the garden soil. No problem, I still have a store of hot chocolate and the electric blanket works just fine.

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 P.S. Fab new word at Dictionary.com: 

williwaw \WIL-ee-waw\, noun:  a violent squall that blows in near-polar latitudes, as in the Strait of Magellan, Alaska, and the Aleutian Islands.

I love this word all by itself. I also confess the appeal of the first syllable “willi”. My family name is Willis, and the the line of Willis’ from which I hail are known for their own version of violent squalls. Therefore, an outburst from that side of the family is now a williwaw.

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