Hope Springs Eternal

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The catalogs are arriving in a flurry each day. The trek from the old farmhouse down to the corner mailbox is an adventure, bundled against the cold that bites cheeks and nose.  Heavy boots, heavier coat, muffler, gloves and hat cover all against the biting cold and wind.  Stirring out of the house on days when the temperature hovers around zero can be a challenge.  But, oh the rewards of the gardening catalogs!

They come beginning every January, when thoughts of first winter snow and Christmas sale catalogs are a faded memory. Daylight is still the lesser part of the day and cold, gnawing cold down to the bone, keeps you hovering about the wood-stove most of the time.  There's little to get you to stir out of the house on days like these, but the thought of the seed catalogs tucked in the grey mailbox at the foot of the hill keep you going. January turns to February -- nor'easters come and go, snow piles deeper at the door, but thoughts of spring are never far away.


The catalogs pile up on the table next to your favorite chair. You browse through them slowly, reading the caption under each plant photograph. Some are photos  of plants you grew in the garden last year, but you can't seem to remember the plant looking so lush and green.  No matter.  This is a new year, where hope, at times, is all we have.  It'll grow fine and tall and green this summer, with no bugs and well-mulched and abundant rain.  Our gardens are always perfect in the planning stages.


Then the lists begin.  There's the seeds from this company that are a standard for your garden, a must-have.  Add them to the list.  That company's catalog offers varieties untried in your plot -- select a few for the list. A large part of the mental gardener is about experimentation.  The new catalog offers more exotic plants, the kind your rational side says don't waste your money on, as it's likely never to survive the rigors of Maine. (Banana trees anyone?)


Out comes the garden journal you kept last year.  There's the list you kept for what plants worked well, what ones didn't.  There's the plants you decided not to grow next year, but there they are on your seed order list again.  Better scratch those off, rather than be disappointed again.  (But then, you never know.  OK, one packet of seeds rather than three -- we'll give it one more try.)


And then there's the garden map. Decisions are made where to rotate the crops and where the new, untried plants will go. Generals envy you on your cool, calculating manoeuvres in the battle of the garden to be. This will be the best garden ever, and planning it is half the struggle, and three-quarters the fun.


Catalogs closed, you sit in your chair, watching the puffy flakes of snow fall past the windows.  There's the garden, buried in snow -- waiting.  A new nor'easter is coming today. Doesn't matter. It's just a matter of time before the orders are placed, and seeds delivered. Just a little more time before the earth is turned and sprouts appear. And only a little more time after that before the first of the lettuce is picked and beans snapped.


Spring is coming.  You just have to keep hoping a little longer -- while thumbing through the seed catalogs for a dose of tonic against the winter blahs. 

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This page contains a single entry by JeffAdminist published on July 8, 2009 6:12 PM.

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend was the previous entry in this blog.

Parrish Light is the next entry in this blog.

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