Friday, February 10, 2006

How a Gardener Deals with Spring Fever

By Christina VanGinkel

The weeks of winter here in the Midwest have been, so far, quite mild. They are finally calling for some colder weather and we did receive several inches of new snow over the last few weeks. Maybe due to the long stretch of mild weather we had, or maybe because winter finally seems to have arrived, or most likely a combination of these I am suddenly quite restless, and more than ready for spring to arrive. Oh, heck with spring, I would love it be summer.

My greatest desire this morning, is to walk out into my garden and dig in the dirt. To plant some seedlings. To pull the weeds. To feel the heat of the hot sun beat down. To be drenched in a shower of rain. I am suddenly very tired of winter and want the seasons of working in the yard and my garden here right now, today.

I have often heard others complain of having cabin or spring fever, an almost driving need to get outside and feel the grass, smell the flowers, and feel the sunshine warm on their face. They have had enough of cold and damp, of snow, and days that seem to end before they even get a good start. I never knew what they meant, not really, until this year. I have no patience left for the snow and cold. I want it gone, and I want it gone yesterday. As irrational as that may sound, that is how I felt as I awoke this morning. The feelings are not new, not really, they have actually been gradual in their coming, almost since the first leaves fell from the trees last fall. With each day that grew shorter and shorter, the feelings have subtly intensified, until this morning when they feel as if they have erupted like a volcano, but without the heat. Actually, more like a slow moving avalanche that has finally made it all the way from the summit of the mountain to the foothills below. Everything at the base of the mountain is now buried deep in the cold white stuff, and it needs the heat of summer to melt it all away.

Instead of spending the day, mired down in depressing thoughts, I remind myself that above all, I am a gardener deep in my heart, and gardeners are highly aware that with enough care, life goes on. I plan to take some action, to bring some of the very things I am so wanting into reality. While I cannot melt the snow and make the mercury outside rise, I can head to the greenhouse and pick up some starter materials for a few plants. I can bring them home, and with my young grandson to help, we can dig in the dirt, and plant some seeds. Scrubbing off the dirt he is sure to get all over will have to suffice as a replacement for pulling weeds!

If you are also experiencing cabin fever, whether it be a mild case or a full-blown malady such as I am experiencing, find a creative outlet to put at least a few of those feelings to rest. Look through the papers and see if there is a garden show in your area anytime soon, and go. Every year a local radio station in our area puts together a home and garden show, with retailers, and small gardeners alike, attending with their wares for the upcoming season. Crafters are abundant too, with tables filled with wind chimes, bird feeders, even fancy scarecrows to set out amongst the first flowers to pop through the dirt.

I think I will also buy a big bunch of flowers while I am at the greenhouse. Nothing too extravagant, just some carnations, and greens to bring a bit of the colors so lacking this winter into my home, actually, I will buy two big bunches. One I will set in our entryway, so everyone not only sees them, but also is greeted by their heavenly aroma. The second bunch will go right here on my desk, as I am in need of an instant shot of spring to chase away the blues, to bring the dreams of my impending garden just a bit closer to reality. In a few days, I will replace them, and will continue to do this until I can see my own flowers breaking through the ground, as I know they will, when their own bout of cabin fever has abated and they feel strong enough to greet spring in all their simple wonder.

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