High altitude gardening is wild and unpredictable.
In the high country, there are few flowers in early to mid May. Yet, spring fever is everywhere and in everyone, despite gusting wind, snow flurries, ground squalls, rain, hail and gropple. Those who can, leave. The rest of us stay, with a crazy mix of pride for being tough and impatience for warm weather, which runs as deep and wild as the rivers' runoff.
The growing season here is short, with maybe sixty or so frost free nights. But, despite the climate and weather, the early risers emerge, including garlic.
Oh, garlic! The joy of seeing its straight, green shoots, popping up through mulch and snow. The promise of fat, purple cloves, to last throughout the year. The spiraling scapes, those lovely, pungent curls, to be sauteed and eaten in July.
Perennials are showing up daily in my garden, thrilling to see emerge! So far there are bunching onions, chives, oregano and columbine. Strawberries, thyme and dianthus. Iris, salvia and parsley.
Why do any of us plant, water and nourish, high above sea level, with only 60 plus frost free nights? We may be overly optimistic and tenacious, but there is something extraordinary about getting your hands in the dirt, where the ground is frozen and unseen much of the year. There is something deeply satisfying, magical, ancestral and eternal about growing food and nurturing flowers, that connects a person to the elements of the earth and its life cycles that can be accessed in no other way.