Just came back in from a brief foray out into the still-above-freezing world.  Everywhere is the sound of dripping and trickling water–so unlike the frozen stillness of the last couple of weeks.  The snow is soft under my feet, and the sidewalk is clear of its frozen layers of ice and snow.

Today was mellow inside and out–I made a very simple turkey-garlic-barley soup out of the first round of stock and started on the second batch of stock with the remains of the carcass and the chunks of garlic left inside.  I had heard it’s good to add a splash of vinegar to a stock to leach some calcium out of the bones, so I did, along with peppercorns, a handful of dried garlic scapes, some parsley–whatever seemed good.

Made my Penzey’s Spices order from the gift certificate my mom sent right before Thanksgiving, and they “forgave” the $1.12 I went above the $30 value of the gift card.  So, I have some bay leaves and vegetable soup base and Balti curry powder and orange peel to look forward to.

I also ordered my Nikki McClure calendar for 2009–wanted to wait in case my friend who usually gets me one did again this year, but he instead gave me one of his amazing works of resin art–not something you can just hop online and purchase!  So there’s two things coming in the mail sometime in the next couple of weeks.

The Nikki McClure calendars have become a tradition in my house–I now have five, with #6 on its way.  Because they are so wonderful, I keep them all up all year, changing each one at the start of every month.

For a person with no readily-accessible clocks in her house (only on the computer and the phone), I love the monthly cycle of a calendar.  I don’t write on Ms. McClure’s though–I keep a hardware store calendar in the kitchen for dates and appointments.

Finally made it back to the gym late this morning for a 2 1/4 mile walk on the treadmill and was glad the scale didn’t seem to notice I’d been playing hooky.  Vega got some play time at the park, and though there weren’t any other dogs there, we hiked through the slushy snow on the wooded trail so she could nose out rabbits.

The Northern flickers must be out judging by the flecks of tree bark scattered on the snow–I haven’t seen them in my yard yet, but they’ll eventually show up to peck the bark off the redbud while searching for insects underneath.  There were fresh deer tracks too, and a couple places where they’d pawed down through the snow looking for something tender and green underneath.

There were a couple open spots on the river–but this time the dog didn’t venture out on the ice.  She did momentarily yesterday morning, but I called her back in a panic after hearing a crunk from the ice underneath her.

Spent some time this afternoon poring through the three seed catalogs I’m planning on ordering from so far–Johnny’s, Territorial, and Pine Tree.  I had made up a list of crops I plan on growing and then painstakingly looked up every one in each of the three to learn their varietal offerings, prices, and pack sizes before settling on what I’m going to order from whom.

On Christmas Eve I was talking to a fellow farmer friend, and she mentioned getting her seed orders together early this year.  She thinks that with the economy in the trenches, a lot more people will be planning to grow-their-own this year, and that could pose some availability problems for those of us who grow for market.  It seemed like a reasonable theory, so I figured I’d get it together early, too.

I’m still jazzed about the idea of a seed swap event and maybe catalog share as well, so I’ll be checking with the garden club and community garden people to see when is a good time.  I tend toward earlier rather than later–as there’s always a number of crops that do well when started in February–leeks and parsley and onions and some perennials.

Besides–gathering together to talk about gardens and seeds is a good way to shrug off the winter blahs and focus on early planting.  I’ve noticed a lot of folks don’t really get their gardens going until June, and I’d like to see more seeds getting in the ground in late March or early April so the local food season can start off abundantly.

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