It didn't rain today, the first day in too many to count. So I decided to tackle my own "first:"  the first day of 2017 when I got my hands dirty in the garden.

We have a small orchard next to our old farmhouse, planted by a previous owner many years before we bought our little farm. I can see the orchard from the kitchen windows, and love to watch the trees change through the seasons.

The bare branches of winter are sometimes covered in snow and ice. Before winter ends, the trees start bursting into bloom, starting with bright white blooms on the yellow plum tree, followed by the Italian plum, the winter pear, and the apple trees. The yellow plum is already budding out. Soon the orchard will hum with the sound of bees doing their job of pollinating the blossoms. Then comes my favorite time: when the bright green leaves emerge and shroud the branches in color.

Before I see the first blooms, I try to prune the trees. Nothing drastic, just cutting the suckers before they get too big to manage. (And strip off the moss that grew over the fall and winter.) But that didn't happen this year... my excuse of "too darn cold" changed to "too soggy and rainy" in the blink of an eye, and it still hasn't stopped raining.

So this afternoon when the sun came out, I set aside quilting and journal, grabbed gloves and pruners and my tall stepladder, and headed for the orchard. The rain held off for a couple of hours, and I worked my way from the pear tree to the Italian plum. I was forced to prune from the ground: the first time I stepped onto the ladder, it sunk into the ground all the way to the first step!

Maybe I need to let the ground dry out a bit?

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