As I sit here, with the background music of the snow blower roaring, snow dripping off the roof, and my nose non-stop dripping everywhere, I remind myself, we asked for it. We chose to live here and we’re glad we did. But it seems earlier every year that we sigh, “Can’t wait for spring.”
Of course this longing is only enhanced by the diabolic catalogues whose arrival in our mailbox has not diminished one bit since Christmas shopping.
It was the middle of December that our first seed catalogue arrived. Lush gardens, brilliant roses, weed-less lawns taunt me with the knowledge that it will be months before I can push even a few spinach seeds into the barely defrosted ground.
How long, it seems, I must wait before I find out which of my favorite plants have made it through the winter.
The perennials don’t always realize that they are a lifelong investment. My particular battle has been with lavender which I replace each spring with a new and different variety guaranteed to be “hardy.” That’s the key word: Hardy. “Tender” perennials haven’t got a snowball’s chance. Hardy doesn’t always make the grade either.
My son lives in Brooklyn and has a garden as big as a coffee table. The soil is hard as a rock and full of broken pieces of bricks and old flower pots. In it grows a lavender plant he has to cut back with a machete because it’s so huge and gets bigger every year. It gets no sun and fights for space with a mammoth rosemary plant that bursts into bloom every other month.
Last year during one stretch of –20 weather we got the idea of putting in a little pond. We were inspired by the BBCAmerica show of “Ground Force” which sends a talented team of four to do makeovers on people’s back yards while the owners are away. The incredible transformations are accomplished in just two days.
As we sit huddled by the wood stove we plan our outdoor paradise. We make sketches of the herb garden with new locations for various varieties of lettuce. We anticipate our gurgling water feature and the lovely little lilies that would hide cute little hoppy creatures.
We check out different kinds of fertilizer that the catalogues advertise and vow to get one of those test kits to figure out how to get the most of our small plot. A few years ago I over-fertilized one area only to have everything that I put in there shrivel up and die. Nothing has grown in that spot for four years now. I call it my Chernobyl garden.
At this stage of the game it all seems so easy: We’ll buy a couple of packets of seeds, strew them around, water occasionally, and reap the harvest in no time.
But then will come that day when it’s +95 degrees and the black flies are thicker than snow flakes. There will be weeds to pull, a lawn to mow and mosquito bites to scratch. That pesky woodchuck will taste test our most expensive flowers and finish off each meal with some fine, ripe tomatoes.
We’ll sip ice tea on the deck, trying to catch a breeze. And we’ll leaf through the catalogues that advertise the latest in leaf rakes and ice melts. We’ll sniff the muggy air and dangle our feet in the tepid, trickle that was earlier our raging torrent of a brook.
And we’ll sigh, “Can’t wait ‘til fall.”