It's been a snowy winter here. Doesn't get too deep, but doesn't really stop coming, either. It's snowing and blowing again today. It's pretty, but spring can't come soon enough.
Fall used to be my favorite time of year. Spring used to depress the heck out of me. All that new growth, flaunting itself, showing me up. But something changed in recent years. That low buzz of personal dearth is almost gone. Also almost gone: the angst about being just another navel-gazing, dilletante Gen-Xer. That particular generational badge will never go completely away, and I'm ok with that. I'm just relieved to finally know what I want. Over the next 40 years or so, all I want is to grow as many vegetables as possible, and get really good at it.
Where I grew up, in an apartment complex in Florida in the 70's, there was no possibility of planting. Calling the stuff in the ground "soil" sounds too rich; it was dirt. It was pale, dusty, miserably hardpacked. When I was about 7, one little old lady tried to plant red tulips in front of her apartment. They were skinny and small and didn't care one bit for their environment. Same went for me. I was skinny and small and really hated Florida, too.
But sometimes I rode my bike to K-Mart's garden center and bought a tiny 50-cent tropical houseplant. My favorite was a jade. It looked weird, vaguely edible. I adored its fat leaves. By the time we moved when I was 15, it was a miniature tree. It was beautifully symmetrical, with glossy tan branches and those delicious-looking leaves. I really loved that jade. I used to lay on my stomach on the porch and gaze at it. Sometimes I wonder if it's still alive.
In the apartment courtyards grew several unloved grapefruit trees, but they produced a lot of fruit. The kids chucked rotting grapefruits at each other. There was always more fruit than everyone wanted to eat. The smell of grapefruit still reminds me of living there. I climbed one particular tree a thousand times, and put my hands and bare feet on the smooth bark in the same place every time. My tree. And when the amazing-smelling blossoms bloomed all at once and fell in the humid spring heat, I tried to pretend it was snow, which I had never seen.