I ride the bus to work when the roads are too occluded with snow for safe biking. On the bus I can pick away at work on my computer, or play freecell. I can’t help but notice that there are other people on the bus; sometimes they do interesting things.
This morning two young women early in love flirted with each other. Another woman sat down in front of them. She started in on some academic article and they both immediately began reading over her shoulder. They turned and smiled at each other; presumably thinking “caught you.”
Crossing the bridge, fog rising from the river obscured the view. They both grabbed phones and began snapping pictures — of no view. As the tedium of the ride set in they leaned into each other and smiled vacantly.
Optimism makes me just a little sick to my stomach.
In February though I have to reach deep into the recesses of my psyche and pull forth what little optimism I have. It’s time to order seeds because the onions need to get under lights towards the end of the month if I’m to have good transplants in early spring.
As usual my neighbor beat me to it. She always gets her peas planted before me. She got chickens first and they lay more eggs than mine. Her children probably pay rent. Nevertheless, along with a free-shipping coupon from my favorite seed purveyor she goaded me to action.
Once I get started flipping through the catalogs my realism recedes, optimism takes over. I begin to envision my yard alive with bees, frogs and snakes. Crackling with green vibrancy. I circle far more seeds than I’ll ever order. I’m not going to go taking pictures of fog or anything, but I do smile vacantly.
Before ordering I always reel in reality. First of all, what seeds do I already have that aren’t too old. Most seeds will last more than a year. Sure the new seeds will have a higher germination rate, but I’ve got lots, I can overplant. Some I reorder anyway, because missing them would be too devastating. I will not go without the late blight resistant tomatoes – they performed brilliantly last year. The Plum Regal tomatoes yielded more sauce than I’ve had since late blight came back in force.
I try and remember what I will actually eat and what will go to waste. I love eggplant, but the boarders don’t eat it. It’s mostly eaten by flea beetles. Tomatillas and okra are not going to get eaten. Butternut squash, potatoes, beans, onions and tomatoes are the staples and can be stored, so I try to focus my ordering there. Just yesterday I peeled a butternut squash, chopped some potatoes and garlic to add to a lentil soup. The garden is long dormant but we’re still getting calories from last year’s sun.
Selecting seeds gets me thinking about what I’ll do better. Maybe this year I’ll finally give the plants all the space they need. I haven’t made a big mistake yet. That feels really good. Most years my gardening practice gets better. I waste less and eat more. Maybe I do feel a bit optimistic; bring on the sun.