The pond is frozen solid and so is the dirt in the garden. A frigid wind howls outside and the mercury in the thermometer has long ago headed south with the geese. Spring is so very far away.
Like grumpy grizzlies, we go into hibernation—drowsy in our wintry doldrums. Laziness overwhelms us and we begin to drift off.
Ah…But there are so many things yet to do! The birds outside the window need to be fed. The barnyard cats, too. Somewhere the hungry cows are lowing. A swirl of snowflakes dance outside the window, inviting us to step outdoors into a Winter Wonderland.
We shiver and look away. Too cold. Too dreary. The snowflakes can dance by themselves. The birds can wait. And so can the cats and cows.
Brrrrr….! January has little to offer us. It may be touted as the beginning of a grand and glorious new year, but right now everything looks plum frozen outside. Nothing is growing but our lethargy. Nothing is green but the mold evolving on the leftovers in the fridge.
Where’s the excitement of January 1st ? The fireworks? The pop-whiz-bang of our New Year’s resolutions?
Our resolutions have already grown stale and are tossed out in yesterday’s garbage. And now we are knee-deep in the January-Blues. If only there was something stirring. Something growing. Just a bit of greenery poking up through the snow to inspire us. That’s what we need. The cheeriness of green to offset the blues.
Maybe, just maybe….
A seed begins to germinate in my mind. It always does during this time of year—and on each occasion it catches me by surprise as though this were the very first time. I get up and rummage through the cabinet. Ah…there they are! The leftover packets from last spring. I shake them and hear the stirrings of life inside. It makes me smile.
Nobody in their right mind would do it, of course. It’s way too early and makes no sense—but who’s gonna know?
Quickly, I get to work, resurrecting some margarine tubs and an old bag of potting soil. The dirt is soon flying and a thin layer of dust covers everything.
An hour later, I stand back and survey my work. Row after row of little tubs march across the table, filled with dirt and the promise of life. The tiny seeds buried beneath the soil begin to expand happily in their newfound freedom, soaking up the water from my watering can. Radishes. Turnips. Zukes. Little parsnips and some okra seeds. Butternuts, too.
I label the tubs carefully, then carry them to the southern window and position them where they will catch the slanting rays of a January sun. Even in the depths of winter, the waning sun works magic on seeds buried in good soil—pulling the sprouts skyward. It’s a miraculous thing and it never fails to work. Never fails to make me happy, too.
I go through this same process every winter—sure as clockwork. By mid-February, of course, the little sproutlings will have become straggly plants in desperate need of more sun and soil. It will still be too cold for them to take a trek to the garden. They’ll languish… And yes—they’ll likely die. Then, I’ll have to start all over again in April.
Nevertheless, I always plant my Margarine-tub Garden in January, and the seeds grow contentedly—albeit briefly. It is the time-honored tradition of mid-winter. It makes the howling wind seem not so frigid. It makes the southern window a place of magic and warmth.
Best of all, it inspires and makes me dream of deep rich soil and growing veggies. I know that soon I will be out there in the Garden, tending my brand new sproutlings and watching them grow.
It will indeed happen! The promise of Spring is just a few days away….In fact, it’s already here. Just look at my windowsill!
The January-Blues are gone, and the January-Greens have come to stay….