Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Welcome Spring

The soil calls me each year in mid winter. I can almost smell the earthy loam of fresh turned soil during those dark, cold months; the desire to hold handfuls of rich, promising soil becomes a hunger in me, a winter longing for sun, and rain, and heat. I ache for the springtime. I ache for the miracle of life.

Every February, I try my hardest to ignore the desire to plant. I put it off. I read about new varieties when the inevitable catalogs arrive, and I try to postpone buying the promised jewel-tone-illustrated seeds. I count my leftover seeds from the year before. I remind myself of the riot of gangly plants that clambered up my windows, long before it was warm enough to harden them off the year before. I set aside the early-birds: the peas and cabbages, broccoli and onions. I use what I have saved in the freezer, making room for this year’s crops. I make winter comfort foods; lacto-fermented, rooty, cheesy. My mouth waters for spinach and asparagus.  I eat the stored fruits of our last season.

And one day, I cave in. I plant a few seeds…then a few more. And I celebrate their germination like I would celebrate a pregnancy…new life, new hope! I watch the seedlings grow, planning my garden, anticipating those coming months of light and growth. I begin to find tiny plantlings pushing aside the leaf-mat in my garden. I clean up the yard, and make a few changes.

The spring kids arrive over a period of about 3 weeks, and my little plants grow into big plants. I set out the pea seeds, and find the feverfew and sweet woodruff. The horseradish sets up little tails fit their name. Overwintered garlic greens poke up, bright spring green among the wet black leaves. I set out the scallion seedlings, safe with bird netting to war off the hungry squirrels. I hope they’ll be warm enough; if the garlic is a sign of oniony spring, they will be.

The tomato plants overrun my sunroom, so I choose those I’ll keep for the summer, and bring the rest to school for the teachers. They’re hungry for spring too, and the plants are claimed in moments. The donations they give will benefit a needy student. These tomatoes will give twice this year.

Dandelion is waiting to be harvested; my comfrey has returned, and the soothing mullein is showing its downy-green lamb ears. Tonight, and all future nights from now until October or November will have temperatures above freezing. Once again, we’ll travel together from seed to table; the earth will yield up her magic; the scents of spring are calling me to the woods and pastures, where her miracles are growing. We are blessed. We have been waiting.

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