Friday, March 6, 2009

Planting Memories

Intellectually, I know it’s still winter despite the fact that it’s warm enough to leave my coat in the car instead of on my back. I don’t smell the worms and I still see an occasional lump of dirty snow that was a huge mount not so long ago. I know it’s still winter, early March-not quite time to jump the clocks forward. It’s not even spring equinox yet and I haven’t yet seen a robin (although I have seen a few geese, who knows if they migrated or not).

But…but…the crocuses or daffodils are reaching up with their little arms by my front door. (Yeah, I know- they got frozen solid in that last freeze a few days ago, but I still hope they are alive and not mushy like lettuce stored in the back of the fridge that gets frozen and thawed.) And, it’s supposed to be 62* this weekend! And, I know (I mean I have a possible hunch that the following may be in progress) that it really is spring because everywhere I look there are Resses Peanut Butter Eggs! And, in my household, the surefire way to tell spring is either here or within the next snowstop or two, is that the dogs wouldn’t eat breakfast the other day because Indigo was laying on the floor in front of my bedroom door, gnawing on her freshly caught bunny breakfast and Pippin was afraid to walk past her to get to her bowl. Forget the robins, I have a doggy door! (Of course, robins have been known to come through there as well due to the due diligence of one Cindy Lou Who cat that normally hunts paper.)

And, I’ve got that seed planting itch. I’m beginning to fanaticize about little tomato sprouts looking for a home, seeds no longer orphaned to winter’s cruel plant murder. I’m dreaming about pepper plants digging their roots deep and backhanding (backleafing?) any murderous munching slugs slithering up their stems to munch their little leaves and stems into nubs. (No straw mulch this year!)

I look forward to cutting a phenomenal puffy purple bouquet from my chives that go to seed.

The news the other night said that the number of people planning to garden this year is up by 17% (I think that was the number) due to economic considerations and fear of contamination by e-coli and salmonella, etc. That’s great that people are planning on planting. It’s sad that fear is their motivation.

I garden for those reasons as well. But mostly, I garden because I love it. Digging my hands into black Earth relaxes my mind and exercises my body. Seeing my hands plant tomato seedlings reminds me of watching my mom’s hands plant tomatoes with a lump of horse manure in each hole and “manure tea” for the first in-ground watering. Pinching off live growing herbs and smelling them fresh brings images to my mind of my mom’s narrow nose inhaling scents from the Earth. Biting into the first ripe tomato of August, warm from the vine reminds me of my mom’s childlike excitement at the garden’s first harvest each year. She is there with me in the garden every time I pull a weed or snip a chive. She smiles as she wipes a freshly dug carrot on her ghostly jeans and bites into it-grit and all. I think I loved her best in the garden. It is there where I feel closest to her since she no longer visits my dreams. The smell of fresh bread dough as my hands knead it is a close second in getting me to feel a close proximity to her.

Mom’s birthday is coming up on March 21, the spring equinox (this year equinox may be the 20th, I’m not sure). I always feel joy and melancholy at this time of rebirth. Joy in the feeling of being alive in this magnificent place called Earth and melancholy because I miss being able to celebrate Mom’s, Deb’s and my birthdays together.

Happy early birthday mom, please help keep the slugs away from my plants this year, and take care of my Little Bit, Ashee and Cocoa. Tell them they have to share the carrots and apples with you this time.

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