These days I would not dare attend a Red Cross blood drive. My veins feel full of carrot soup. If beta carotene were illegal, I’d be serving life in a Super Max.
Carrots that are left in the garden all winter can be absolutely addicting when dug in the winter or spring, sweet and crunchy like nothing the supermarket has ever seen. I’ve tried keeping carrots in a root cellar with various storage strategies, and no system equals leaving them in the ground right where they grew. Mulch hay, leaves, and snow-cover will protect them from freezing, and that is the happiest way to kiss a carrot goodnight for the winter.
Suppose, now, that you want to wake up a few pounds of those carrots in January and taste their sweet dreams. And suppose we’ve had three feet of heavy wet snow and an inch of freezing rain for good measure. A root cellar full of carrots starts to sound pretty good right about now.
But the addiction is strong. I know the difference. These stay-at-home carrots are worth a few minutes with a snow shovel, hacking away at the snow, ice, and hay until you see that dark earth reveal itself for the first time since October. And then you reach for the garden fork and plunge it into the soil as if it were August, soft and pliable, and pry up the prettiest carrots that Old Man Winter has ever seen.
That is what happens most of the time, but not always. I will never forget one February day several winters ago, approaching one of my carrot beds with snow shovel in hand and a five gallon bucket ready to fill with carrots. I wanted a carrot cake like my bees want nectar, and I started digging.
Each carrot bed is marked with fiberglass fence posts at the corners, so I know exactly where to dig. But this time when I got down to that friable, gorgeous soil not seen since Autumn, there was nothing there. Nothing but vole tunnels. They had binged on the entire bed, every last carrot crumb, and were now probably sitting in an underground circle at some 12-step vole program for winter carrots.
But this year the crop is all mine, no voles to dine, and I am happily pushing my kidneys to the limit, one bowl of soup at a time.