It's chilly. It's grim. My left knee is not working well and the rest of that leg is hardly picking up the slack. And there's the increasing possibility of another nor'easter arriving Wednesday, which is when I'm scheduled to pick up my wife Pam at the airport after her annual trip south to visit with her sisters in Florida. It hardly feels like winter is supposed to take its exit shortly, but there are signs that a new season... a growing season... is slowly and grudgingly making its way into the neighborhood, and for proof, in addition to the abundance of crocuses and aconites, the latter actually past their prime, there's this clump of newly emerged Fritillaria leaves that have greeted us with the hope of their curious, checkered flowers for years. Alas, they've never blossomed, so all we have to go on is the glorious picture in the catalog. Still, it's almost the season of hope... and hope we do.