I have been resisting the temptation to look for a couple of weeks now, but . . . SEED CATALOGUES ARE HERE! I love seed catalogues. I can sit and pour through them over and over again during the short days of winter. But this leads to dreams of turning my scraggly 2 acre yard of reclaimed brush land into a lush garden oasis. I develop delusions of having a thriving vegetable garden with well planned rows and patches. Maybe this will be the year that we try our hand at growing giant pumpkins. Visions of sunny sunflower patches. Rose bushes! A koi pond! Maybe even cluster of blueberry bushes and a few fruit trees at one corner of the yard. I can just see my children frolicking about the gardens, stopping to pluck a flower to adorn their curly hair while I sit with a glass of iced tea and soak in all the beauty of it. If only my yard didn’t actually look like it was waiting for a Chevy on cinder blocks to adorn it. One day.
For years I started seeds in a spare room under lights each spring. Each morning one of the first things I would do is go into the room to check and see what had sprouted or put up a new leaf overnight. Frankly I couldn’t even tell you why, but not much makes me happier – especially when it’s snowing in April – than seeing these little green shoots emerging from the soil. A few years back I had to leave town for a few days in late spring before I was able to plant out that year’s crop. The qxh, apparently not understanding that my request that he water them daily while I was gone wasn’t really optional, didn’t. When I got back about a third of my plants were dead. I’m normally a pretty tough cookie, but I cried for days.
As much as I love it, gardening has joined watching TV, watching movies, reading novels, knitting, participating in conversations online and trying new, complicated recipes on the list of things which the ever increasing demands and complexity of my life have swallowed up. Two years ago, for the first time since we moved from an apartment to a house I didn’t start plants from seed. Last year I didn’t plant a vegetable garden – not even a tomato plant on the deck. (Don’t feel too bad for me, I’m actually a terrible gardener. I’m learning by trial and errors and I never did have the time or money to do it right.) But maybe . . .
The same lure of better, more beautiful days ahead which makes seed catalogues so irresistable in January also makes me think that maybe by spring, the rest of my life will be better and more beautiful as well. Maybe I’ll be on my feet and after I replace the broken washing machine, buy new glasses for my boys, contacts for me, get caught up on the electric bill and the gas bill, (there’s tip jar at the bottom of the page you can use to make a donation, btw), get the bad ball joint on the van repaired, get a lawnmower and buy some decent shoes for Noah and bras for me (there’s also a button down there you can use to go buy a copy of my book on Amazon – just making suggestions!), this will be the year that I can finally get the tiller I need. And maybe fence in the vegetable garden. And my life will be transformed into the beauteous vision seed catalogues inspire in my head. Or maybe if I’m lucky I’ll just mooch off a friend who needs their hostas split and plant them out back.
A few months ago, while I was struggling to muster the courage to hang onto hope (hanging onto hope in a dark and discouraging place is an act of courage, you know), my daily devotional said, “who told you that winter will never end and spring will never come again?” And I knew it was true. Winter always ends. Spring always returns. If the weather’s not favorable this year, next year should be better. And no matter how dark the night or cloudy the days, the sun is never gone for good. The day will come for God to “restore the years that the locusts have eaten”. Even when these things feel impossible, I know they are true.
Maybe that’s what keeps drawing me back to the dirt; it is what I know my own life to be. It may be filled with weed seeds and need amending to be more fertile. But it’s also where things live and grow. It holds deep roots that outlast long winters in the great northern tundra. And I know that with enough time and attention and tending, it will become something beautiful. Perhaps those children plucking flowers to adorn their hair will be my grandchildren. I’m sure I’ll have that greenhouse I always wanted by then.