Forget robins- my harbinger of Spring is the arrival of the year’s first seed catalog. Mine came this week from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, full of sexy full-color photos of beauties like Rossa Bianca eggplants, Charentais melons, and Southern Night tomatoes. Seed catalogs bring with them the hope of hot sun and warm dirt and fried squash blossoms and bruschetta. This winter has been a long, gray, and stormy one. I’ve breathed more stuffy indoor air than I ever care to, but the Weather Channel keeps showing images of big pink blobs churning across the country on the weather radar, unabatedly blanketing us with rain, snow, sleet and gloom. But don’t abandon hope. Peruse a Seeds of Change catalog or Park Seeds and let hope arise anew.
Close your eyes, sitting in front of a sunny window if possible. You are outdoors in your yard or garden. Image the pinch of sun on the bridge of your nose and highest planes of the cheeks. There is a bead of sweat that has collected at the top of your spine, about to slip down between your shoulder blades. You hear a dog bark in the distance, and if your memory banks had any deposits made on the East coast, a blue jay jeering. A bumblebee may come by, loudly bumping and buzzing its way past. If you happen to have an African Blue basil, there will be a constant high-pitched hum emanating from the swarm of honeybees hieing thither and fro. There is a rustle of breeze through the trellised pole beans and as someone has just started up a lawnmower a block or so away, a waft of fuel mixed with fresh mown grass arrives on the same breeze and invades the edges of your senses. The marigolds edging your garden bed are stridently bright orange, yellow and red, their scent an herbal twang. You have a couple of tomato plants, maybe a vining golden pear cherry or a tumescent Cherokee Purple, and as you reach your hands under the branches, feeling for ripe fruit, you brush the velvet covering the leaves and foliage, releasing the spicy/bitter tomato smell. If you’re really lucky, there is a chicken wire fence nearby covered in pink and violet sweet peas that are beginning to wilt slightly in the heat and their fragrance mingles with the warm smell of dirt and tomatoes…..Ahhhhhhh. Summer is coming. I promise.