Is this a winter wasteland or the beginning of spring?

Is this a prelude to an early spring, or merely a mid-February teaser?

Outside the office window the foothills of Mordor are encroaching: listless lumps of once-was snow sit in haphazard heaps beneath thick crusts of black dirt in the lot next door. Gone are the days of a pristine blanket of white reflecting dim winter light from a sparkling carpet. Nope. None of that now, or in the near future.

The waste land next door is all the proof needed that February is the cruellest month, not April. Although the shortest in length, it’s always seemed the longest in duration to me: grey skies test the mettle of the most winter-hardened Canadians.

Montreal introduced its Nuit Blanche – french for “all nighter” – about ten years ago to give residents something to look forward to in the doldrums of winter.

B.C. just joined the bandwagon with its first February holiday, Family Day. And if they can’t afford to go where the heat is, people have been known to throw sun-themed parties to break up the monochromic dreariness.

This year the chill is gone, but the grey remains, particularly prevalent with the lack of a good coat of snow to cover roads and bare branches. With the lack of the seasonal white stuff comes a disappointing lack of winter sports: ice may be good for luge, but not so much for regular tobogganing.

Is this a prelude to an early spring, or merely a mid-February teaser? A couple of weeks ago, I ran into a Nakuspian on the waterfront who recalled a winter in the last decade where there were golfers enjoying the links in Fauquier at the end of January. It never did snow again, said the fellow, just continued on into an early spring. Is that what’s in the works for us this year?

Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to start seedlings and get them into ground early. I’d be tempted to try my hand growing Hermann Bergner-sized prize-winning pumpkins if we do get an extended growing season.

If not, I’d be just as happy to sail down the side of the mountain on a pair of skis. Anything, as long as wasted hills of Mordor retreats into the distance of either winter or spring.