I raised seedlings last February when ice covered the ground and winds howled. Karl rigged salvaged shop lights in the shed 8 inches above a shelf. I planted seeds in the tiny house and carried them slipping and sliding on the ice. I set the seed flats on sheet trays with rope lights curled underneath. The bottom heat seemed to do the trick, because the seeds sprouted to life.
I needed that. In the darkest days of winter, seeing the seeds break out of their seed pods gave me hope that I would sprout again, too.
But those early days were touch and go. The seedlings reached quickly for the light and began to fall over. I had to baby them, raise them closer to the light, monitor their water, make sure it stayed warm enough, turn the light on and off for the right amount of time–a surrogate sun.
The weather warmed and I placed them outside only to have them get snowed on. What a relief to finally reach the safe zone and plant them in the garden.
They leapt to life and grew bigger than I imagined they would. I felt proud. They were my babies, but also my saving grace. We helped each other find the life we needed.
It rained all spring and early summer. My tomatoes got late blight and I ripped them out of the ground. They were black and I was sad. They gave it the best they had. Sometimes weather just wins.
It’s always worth it to put myself out there, to work to coax the life into a seed, only to rip it out with disease.
There are the plants that make it to the glory days of fall, when we can say, “We grew all the food on this table. Those green leaves in the garden, I shared with the caterpillars and bees and bugs I can’t name, yet.” Those plants become my family, the kind of family I can tell secrets to while laying on my back dreaming into clouds. I don’t want them to leave me.
The flowers in fall are perhaps the hardest to let go. I want them to flower into winter, to shine their red beauty to the sky. It want them to last forever.
Then comes a killing freeze. The end of the growing season.
And winter’s darkness sets in again with seed pods and fake light and
flowers in my heart.
I will do it all over again.