The fire pops, shooting embers against the screen, and I choose another seed catalog from the deepening drift nearby. It is winter, time for dreams of gardens to come.
It’s easy to fall for the descriptions in seed catalogs. They promise a cucumber that will produce more than any other cucumber, is resistant to all forms of disease and will grow in any situation.
You won’t read: this plant grows well under ideal backyard situations with experienced gardeners who have the time and energy to help it flourish. or: this plant will sprout, grow slowly, attract aphids, lose many leaves overnight to some unexplained bug and eventually produce one misshapen fruit that none of your family members will eat except you, because you cared for it over the last four months and, by golly, you are going to eat it!
I suspect seed catalogs have been lifting the winter-weary spirits of gardeners around the world since the first paper flyers rolled off the presses.
Indeed, it's no coincidence that seed catalogs are often mailed around the winter solstice, just as the darkness envelopes us. Like colorful, twinkling Christmas lights, the pictures of rich red tomatoes, bright orange carrots with their feathery green tops, and sunny sprials of red and yellow marigolds light up the dark corners of our homes and warm the chilly places in our hearts.
Is there anything more comforting than sitting with one's favorite seed catalog on a cold wintery day, poring over the latest new vegetables and planning next spring's garden? Between local garden businesses, organizations like Sound Food, Tilth, and the internet, the wealth of resources available to gardeners these days is almost endless. And, it's true: You can now peruse a seed catalog's entire inventory online.
But the anticipation, joy and wonder that comes with sitting by the fire on a cold winter evening, lost in this spring's seed catalog, is an experience I hope I'll never outgrow. I can almost taste the tomatoes now...
Here's to the delicious sunshine we have been experiencing as of late and the anticipation of things to come it brings with it!