seed catalogs: planning and reflecting on spring gardens in January

seed catalogs: planning and reflecting on spring gardens in January

Leading up to Christmas, seed catalogs start filling my mailbox. Resisting the temptation to hastily flip through them while I sort through mail, I carefully stack the catalogs aside.  I smile as I pass the neatly stacked pile, knowing a quiet wet day is coming soon.

Each year in early January, without fail, the perfect day arrives, a day for a fireside cup of tea with stacks of seed catalogs and books encircling me. The day shows up with the sound of rain, extra time, and quiet space. I start the tea kettle, grab the seed catalogs, take down my carefully wax paper wrapped seeds saved from my garden, find some blank paper and a sharpened pencil and start to plan.

With all the planning, comes the reminiscing. Remembering last years garden, both the successes and the failures. Remembering those who come before me, the stories my Uncle told me before his stroke about my great grandma Della Cain. How she always had a garden to feed the family and how much planning was needed to get through the winter in the cold of Southern Illinois. How she always grew three rows of corn…I want to grow three rows of corn. Would she know me then, and be proud of her great-granddaughter, digging in the soil, growing three rows of corn?

As I move between planning and remembering, I reflect on a book called Seedfolks and how the opening character in the book named Kim, plants beans in an empty lot near her house hoping her late father who passed away eight months before she was born would notice her, “in that vacant lot he would see me. He would watch my beans break ground and spread, and would notice with pleasure their pods growing plump. He would see my patience and hard work. I would show him that I could raise plants, as he had. I would show him that I was his daughter.”

By the end of the day, I am full. Full of hope for the coming days, excitement for the arrival of seeds ordered, love for those seed people who came before me. The way I carry with me a little part of their life, in each seed I save and story I share.