Except for mooning over seed catalogues, an indulgence granted to dedicated gardeners in the name of planning ahead, dreaming of spring in February in South Dakota is a futile and frustrating endeavor. In softer parts of the country, farmers may be starting to get ready for spring planting. Here, they are emailing pictures to their relatives of snowdrifts high enough to allow cattle to walk across five-foot corral fences.
The world of retail, apparently, is not aware of this. On a quick trip to a discount store this week, I saw employees setting up the display of patio furniture, grills, and gardening tools. I might have found this more encouraging, I suppose, if I hadn't trying to buy a pair of mittens. The only winter things left were a few forlorn pairs of gloves on the clearance rack, trying to remain inconspicuous amid all the spring hats and purses.
On the other hand, two of my friends have reported seeing robins already. It took us a while to figure out that they must have come north a month early in an effort to escape the unexpected snow and cold in the southern part of the country. You have to give them credit for trying, but it isn't going to do them much good until the worms thaw out.
Spring will get here, of course, in its own good time. In the meantime, the two African violets in my office are covered with soft lavender blossoms. The amaryllis I got for Christmas burst forth on Valentine's Day with eight luscious flowers in red and white stripes. The Thanksgiving cactus, perhaps confused by its proximity to the amaryllis, has produced a handful of unseasonable blooms. The finches and chickadees are busy at the bird feeder on our deck; maybe they'll even be joined by a robin or two.
And March is just around the corner. Here in the Black Hills, we know perfectly well what that means. More snow.