One frosty morning we'll look into our RFD mailbox and see something very colorful waiting to be pulled out.
It's the first of many attractive seed catalogues that will brighten the remaining winter months. A stack of very pleasant reminders that even in central New York winter is thankfully not forever!
Spring does eventually arrive...catalogues are pored over; comparisons made; lists written; items added and some crossed out. An order is finalized and sent off. In the meantime I prepare our garden spots by turning under with a pointed shovel the organic material spread on them in late Fall.
With seeds soon in hand we wait expectantly for the soil to warm so seed germination can occur. While we'd like to plant in April our hopes have been more often than not dashed. A warm day or two is usually followed by much longer periods of cold, rainy, dark sunless days--even weeks on end. On May 21 of this year our garden was covered with a light layer of snow!
While grass seems to grow quite vigorously under these weather conditions it seriously retards seed germination and growth (rotting seeds in some instances). Bee pollination of fruit trees and other flowering vegetation is often another casualty of inclement May weather. Long time area residents don't even "think" about garden planting until at the earliest Memorial Day.
(One neighbor quit gardening after planting in mid June--and still being hit with a killing summer frost.)
Eventually we--like our neighboring farmer friends--have to "bite the [weather] bullet" and plant. (Our 90 year old friend "Gwen"--who still cleans the bulk tank--says with a twinkle in her eyes: "You can't grow the damn things unless you plant them.")
I must add I have the greatest admiration and respect for all farmers--especially in the Spring of the year when they are almost overwhelmed by work that must be done. Even lengthening days are never long enough to accomplish all they want to do.
For instance Gwen's grandson Richie has recently spent countless hard working hours digging up tons upon tons of miscellaneously sized rocks from a 4 acre cornfield. A hard to farm triangular piece of land that Richie and his Dad Bernie will reseed into a hay field.
The most reliable "crop" grown in these hills is rocks (as the huge field stone piles and long forgotten stone walls are testament to)!
Whenever Richie "works" this field--including disking and dragging--new rocks surface--almost by magic. In a sense stones are always in motion. Deep frost gradually pushes stones to the top of the ground as warming temperatures pull the frost to the earth's surface.
Richie and his Dad will finally have the field smooth enough to plant. I watch the process and I'm awed at just what it takes to be a good farmer. And Richie has other fields to do!
My lovely wife and I are "very minute potatoes" in the farming world. But we love our land and do all we can to be good and careful stewards of it. We believe it's only on loan to us for a brief time and we want to be able to pass it on a little better than maybe it was treated in the past.
Lois and I love to plant our garden seeds together. I'm in total awe how the tiniest seed can grow into a 19" long parsnip as we had a few years ago. Or how a single sunflower seed can grow into a 15" monster--again as we grew in our garden two years ago.
Every seed we plant contains within it the potential and promise of larger growth and almost miraculous transformation. But something must happen to this seed first. As long as it remains within its protective shell its potential is suspended--a prisoner and unrealized.