February: When gardeners get boring. February 17, 2011Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: blog humor, gardening, home gardening
Our friend Ben thinks that T.S. Eliot got it wrong, at least as far as gardeners, or more specifically, their social lives, are concerned. April isn’t the cruelest month, it’s February.
You see, for most of the year, we’re too busy gardening to talk about it. And in the winter, there’s nothing much to talk about. Silence Dogood and I tend the greenhouse, water our houseplants, and wait for spring.
Then comes February. Finally, the days are noticeably longer. The daytime temps occasionally creep up into the 40s and 50s, and the eternal snow cover begins to shrink away, revealing evergreen groundcovers, still alive and verdant under their suffocating white blanket. Old friends, like our resident wren, start letting us know they’re back, and beloved winter visitors like our junco flock decide it’s time to move on.
It’s not so much that spring is in the air as it’s in our blood. We begin surreptitiously looking for bulbs to begin poking their green tips out of the not-so-frozen land, or eyeing the hellebores for signs of blooms. We pore over the seed and nursery catalogues and fight over who’s getting which garden beds this year and what’s going in them. We dream of the day we can head out to our favorite nurseries to pick up heirloom vegetable transplants, and we try to convince ourselves that we can squeeze a few more dwarf fruit trees onto our property. We fantasize about a day spent at the huge orchid show going on now at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, and we try to convince each other that we could take in the show without buying more orchids for our greenhouse. In other words, we have a grand old time talking about gardening and planning our gardens and our gardening year.
Unfortunately, our friends and extended family don’t seem to find our obsession as enthralling as we do. Strange as it might seem, come February, it seems that everyone’s schedule is suddenly so packed with activities that they can’t even answer our garden-crazed e-mails, much less make time to see us. If it weren’t for Silence’s irresistible cooking, we probably wouldn’t see a single friend for the entire month. And even then, the second we start going on about the durability of daffodils, heirloom vs. hybrid tomatoes, or the relative virtues of different types of onion sets, our guests (or, worse, hosts) suddenly recall a previous engagement.
For our self-respect’s sake, it’s a good thing that we know from experience that this pariah-like treatment will reverse once the gardening season arrives. Once we have homegrown eggs, strawberries, raspberries, greens, herbs, tomatoes, hot peppers and the like to share, suddenly we’ll be Mr. and Ms. Congeniality. Folks who shunned us in February will welcome us (and our produce) with open arms in June. They’ll rave about our eggs, and might even ask us a few questions about our colorful assortment of tomatoes or beautiful multicolored lettuces and beans.
Such, our friend Ben concludes, is the gardener’s lot: Like gardening itself, popularity is cyclical. Still, if we could manage to curb our enthusiasm (and shut our garden-obsessed mouths) in February, we might find ourselves with a lot more invitations. But where would be the fun in that? Oh, did I mention that we’ve recently discovered a new heirloom/hybrid tomato cross…