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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Poem: The Winter Garden

Here's a poem I wrote back in February 2015, which was almost the end of an especially harsh winter. It's nominally about the gardeners' madness known as "The Februaries," which I have managed to resist for another year.


The Winter Garden

There's a madness that comes upon gardeners
when the Winter has worn on too long
and Spring is just out of reach

It's the reason there are so many extra seeds in each seed packet.
We call it The Februaries.

Seeds will sprout in their own time
they respond to the rhythms of the season, the length of the day,
the coolness of the night

You can't plant a tomato seed in December and expect to have tomatoes in March.
Seeds don't work like that, and every gardener knows this.
Seeds started in February have a lousy germination rate.
They will rot in the soil, and those that sprout
will produce seedlings that are weak and leggy
stretching desperately for sunlight that isn't there
waiting to be bathed in warmth that is weeks away.

Yet every year, some - many - most gardeners will give in to the madness
convince themselves that this year maybe, just maybe
things will be different.

The seeds will sprout, the seedlings will be robust,
and will grow into plants eager to be transplanted into the garden
as soon as the soil can be worked.

Weeks later, as March brings with it the promise of new life
the gardeners will look with disgust at their seed flats
empty but for a few scraggly seedlings embarrassing to view

And they will throw out the lot,
toss it into the compost,
and plant the rest of the packet.

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