I wish I had a secret garden- hundred year old, stone-walled, crumbling fountains, faux bois and cement figures, overgrown roses and wisteria, but those are few and far between in my part of the world. I’ll have to settle. Last summer was all about house improvements, and while we are definitely still not done with those (in addition to inability to plan and major ability to procrastinate, we both lack the “completion” gene, and are unable to finish anything we start) this is the Year of the Garden. We missed a lot of the blooming last summer, because the spring was warm and we didn’t arrive until late June, so much of what’s coming up in the yard is a mystery. But imagine my joy almost a month ago, to walk up my driveway and see the tiniest, brightest yellow crocus bravely blooming during our abismal wintery March (that definitely did not go out like a lamb). It was a reward, a prize, an encouragement. A Minnesotan’s appreciation and amazement of the first bloom is singular.
So far crocuses (done blooming), tulips and narcissus are easily identified, though the later two aren’t blooming yet. The grass is greening thanks to the rain we had last weekend and barely-there buds are starting to emerge on the trees. The birds are going crazy in our yard and the still-fat squirrels still haven’t figured out how to access our new bird feeder…SUCCESS! We even hit the upper 70s last sunday and have been enjoying the sunshine the last few days. But even with all that, honestly, it still kind of looks like what much of the country would call “winter” AND there’s a forecast of snow this weekend. SNOW. Snow? Really? Why?
I’m having adjustment issues.
But back to the garden. We spent all sunday construction raised beds on a narrow strip of land between our driveway and the chain link fence bordering our property. I pulled up all the grass by hand the week before and together we tilled the soil in our 3 new beds (one more will be constructed as soon as we forget about how hard they are). And I know I should have waited….but I planted. I couldn’t help myself! The sun, the warmth, the birds’ songs! Now we’re supposed to get some snow and only have highs in the 40s for the next three days. Its all an experiment, I guess, and perhaps the efforts and actions right now are more important than the outcomes. But I keep thinking about what it would be like to be a pioneer, particularly in Minnesota, and especially in winter. The days are so short, no electric lights for long nights, people lived in drafty clapboard houses, and planting a successful and abundant garden was necessary for survival. What if there was a super late frost and everything died? Or a drought in the summer? What kind of relief did people feel when the snow melted, the ground thawed and they didn’t have to just eat preserved meat and storage crops? This winter we had a CSA share, from which we got most of our vegetables, with some supplementing from the COOP and the grocery store, but I was pretty good about buying seasonal and fairly local produce. The excitement for spring vegetables is overwhelming now, but our “summer” farmer’s market doesn’t start until May 7. I’ll be hitting the indoor market this saturday, hoping for some greenhouse grown veggies.