A Winter Ritual

February marks the time of year when, under the constant barrage of cold, sunless days and endless snow, winter's newness and beauty begins to fade.

Now that the last of the blizzard's snow has been shoveled and the icicles have been knocked down from the gutter and down spouts, and there's nothing to be done about the ice dam that has formed over the front porch overhang, it's time to indulge.

The Gurney's and Dutch Garden colored catalogs need attention.  My gardening journal beckons to be opened.  It is a good ritual, this perusing and dreaming, of planning the yearly gardens. 

Prompted by news of a possible seed shortage - I had earlier dashed to get the Burpee order form in the mail, then hedged my bets and bought Picklebush Cucumber, Early Sweet Sugar Pie Pumpkin, Vegetable Spaghetti Squash, and Fordhook Zucchini seeds on Saturday from a local big box store.  Call it mild panic and overreaction, but I cannot imagine a garden without these vegetables nor would I take even the slightest risk of not having these seeds to plant. 

I can't however, breathe a sigh of relief until I score red, white and yellow onion sets.  These too are rumored to be in short supply this year.

In the meantime, I compiled my Gurney's order (a dwarf grapefruit tree, asparagus food, garden soil inoculant for peas and beans, two more square tomato cages); then, I visited with my journal reviewing the garden layouts from year's past, the yields, the purchases and some short journal entries:

There seems to be a common theme in my journal entries
- one of birds as harbingers -
and of evidence that, even in the dead of winter,
the rythmn of nature carries us forward into spring. 

January 9, 1999
 Birds sighted: 
 a flock of larks, cardinals, a red-bellied woodpecker,
bluejays, grackles, sparrows, titmouse, juncos,
 a red tail hawk and Canada geese.
March 19, 2005: 
First red-winged blackbird of the season feeding
alongside some grackles outside the kitchen window. 
Started my yellow and green peppers, cabbage
and 3 kinds of tomatoes (yellow pear, sweet cherry and Big Boy).
May 2, 2004
Barn swallows are back!