Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Winter, still.

(Another storm.)

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.


Grant said...

After seeing your view of the outdoors, I promise to quit bitching about low 40's and rain here. :)

I am somewhat torn by the approach of Spring. Half of me can't wait for it to get here because I long for warmer weather and shorter nights. The other half of me knows that once it does arrive I'm going to have a lot of work to do making raised beds, getting a compost tumbler, figuring out how to grow a plant without killing it, etc. The whole gardening thing is completely new to me, so this Spring is going to be a learning experience for sure. I just hope that all of my grandiose ideas don't come crashing down around me.

ilex said...

Start small and pick a handful of plants to grow- say, a few vegetables that you guys really like to eat. Don't try to do it all in your first year. That is a sure recipe for discouragement. Steve Solomon's book, "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades", might be useful to you.

Rabbits' Guy said...

princessbunnyI'm with Grant ... keep that picture there!

Amazing what memories we have.

We lived in Phonix once for a bit. We hung a big bag of lemons out with a "free" sign on there. Next day there were two bags! That is what happens to zuchinni here!