Today, I saw the first signs of spring in the yard. It was 60 degrees out, so I decided after work to do a couple early spring tasks: pumping the nasty water out of the mini-pond where I managed to freeze my fishies last winter, and clearing some stuff off the herb garden to see what grew there.
The first thing I did to the pond was pull off the remaining ice, and then I scooped out the four dead shubunkin and one dead frog that were floating on the top. (Resolution: Place the pond warmer BEFORE four inches of ice have formed on the pond.) Then I ran the pump unattached to the filter until there's only about two inches of mud and leaves and brackish water at the bottom. That will be sucked out sometime in the next two weeks with a shop vac, and the algae that has grown on the pump will be removed.
While pumping the water out, I noticed that the watercress in the "stream" (external filter output spilling back into the mini-pond) was beginning to wake up -- and there's so much of it, and so much root mass, that you can no longer see the EPDM rubber that makes up the stream. The stream will be full of watercress and some Vietnamese coriander, and there will be a floating pot of water spinach in the pond itself. I also want to try growing some chufa (tiger nut or rush nut) -- although it's supposedly good food for wildlife, what I'm trying for is a crop of tiger nuts to make Spanish horchata (orxata in Catalan) with. Mexican rice horchata is NOT the same. Not at all the same.
I then went to the herb garden. Tarragon, oregano and curly mint are starting to wake up, as are the salad burnets. I discovered that I had missed transplanting some baby saffron crocus corms, and moved the little grassy-topped bulblets closer to the porch so they'd survive worse winters than this one (they're zone 6, but growing close to the house on the south side). The thymes and even the hyssop seem to have survived the winter; it's too early to call on the sage. I expect all the mints (contained in root-binding pots, of course) to survive, and the Profusion sorrel is coming up yet again -- it's come up during every warm patch only to get frostbitten and wither back.