I tried to read at the breakfast table yesterday while I ate warm oatmeal with craisins and walnuts. Instead of following the words on the page, though, my eyes kept looking through the sliding glass door. At the garden.
A woodpecker and a red cardinal swung on the bird feeder, eating the sunflower seeds I filled it with yesterday. House finches flitted from bare branch to bare branch. Mourning doves rooted around in the mulch on the hill out back. And I found myself doing the thing I do when spring is near enough that my gardening vacation is on the calendar: plotting what I’m going to plant where.
I closed the memoir I was reading and covered the table with gardening books, magazines, notepads, and my grid paper planner where I draw garden plans. “These echinacea can go there, I’ll move the sedum here, Rudbeckia would look pretty there. I’ll need to get some of those. And a couple more grasses. And a passionflower.”
Now my shoulders and hands ache. Once I was in garden mode, I couldn’t stop. We had a sunny day yesterday, warm enough to garden, and I spent the afternoon shearing perennial brush, turning compost, and mowing autumn’s oak leaves to shred them to mulch.
I try not to let myself think about the garden too much in winter. Thinking about a green garden when the world is brown and grey just makes me want something I can’t have. So when I went out yesterday, after purposely avoiding thought of it, I encountered it fresh and full of newness. When I snipped boughs from our Christmas tree into smaller pieces for the compost pile, I smelled the evergreen scent of blue spruce in the clear winter air. As I clipped and sheared in the garden beds, I released the scents of rosemary and mint.
And best of all, for the first time in 16 years of attempting to compost, and make usable compost, I’ve finally succeeded. I’ve got a nice little pile of homemade, nutrient-rich dirt I can use when it’s time to start digging holes and planting plants in spring.