Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Seedy Consolation - Wegner

In a kind of “thumbing of the nose” to winter, garden seeds have appeared at the local grocery stores. Recently those colourful harbingers of spring, standing erect in their private display case positioned next to the bakery counters, gave me cause to stop and dream. As if the mouth-watering fragrance of fresh-from-the-oven rye bread wasn’t enough, it was the sight of impending flower patches and succulent cherry tomatoes that stopped me dead in my tracks.

The bread I might resist; the seeds, I could not.

Ambling through the aisles of imported fruit and winter-storage potatoes, I found myself dreaming of crisp carrots, dew-dripping lettuce and snappy peas. After all, is there anything more soul-stirring than those little paper promises of summer in the dead of winter? No matter if winter consists of leaden-grey skies, incessant rains or bone chilling temperatures of -50 with the wind chill, I mused, the hope of harvest springs eternal in the hearts of those who love working in the dirt.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating parts of the display was the variety. Packets of petunias and parsley, carrots, calendula, spinach and sorrel competed for space next to wild flowers, green peas, pole beans, or golden corn. Tucked above, below and next to them was an array of herbs. While thyme and basil vied for space between alyssum and beefsteak tomatoes, the ever-present zucchini and summer squash asserted their presence. It was enough to make the head swim and the imagination salivate.

I continued shopping but only by a deliberate act of the will, an organized grocery list, and familiarity with the store’s layout. On the outside I picked up milk and yogurt; inside my head, I was planning where to sow the spinach and the cucumbers. This mental preparation of summer salads and pickled beets nearly - but not quite - braced me for what seems to be a weekly increase in the price of next Sunday’s roast. “See,” I told myself, “You really should consider becoming a vegetarian.”

After tossing in the last tin of tuna and a tube of toothpaste, I chatted briefly with the clerk about…I’m not quite sure...then headed out the door. I sighed, allowing my thoughts to return to the garden and a few related issues.

“The trellis the neighbourhood kids wrecked last summer- actually they wrecked it twice - needs to be repaired,” I mused, mentally starting yet another list. “Hubby may as well paint it at the same time. Come to think of it, he might as well extend the cage for new raspberry shoots at the same time…and prepare a new frame for peas because we really should plant more this year.” The variety of chores that came to mind was matched only by the multiplicity of garden seeds motivating this train of thought.

”Hope spring eternal” someone wrote and it’s true. The most bitter of winters creates its own kind of hope for another season. So, tomorrow - or maybe in a month or two - I’ll face the realities of moisture and temperature levels, bugs and slugs, and the myriad of moulds just waiting to suck the life from my crop. But, not right now. Today, grocery bags in my hand, I am transported to another place, aided by thoughts of the beans and berries I froze in balmier times.

And to my fellow writers: May the chill of writers’ block and letters of rejection be replaced by the warmth of God’s approval on our words.

Linda Wegner

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