New Life

“While there’s life, there’s hope.” Who said that? Some guy called Cicero who lived in the first century BCE. Dude! I couldn’t agree more.

After endless months of wet, cold, rainy, soggy, grey, dreary, adjective-ridden winter, my garden awakes. The rhubarb, the keenest plant of all, arises.

 RhubarbShoots

Cheery red shoots emerge from the slime and the muck. It’s cold above and cold below, but nothing deters the rhubarb. It has a mission to thrive.

Most days, I stand snug in my warm kitchen and watch its progress through the window. Rain sheets down one day, fog intrudes the next, and frost pounces during any night without cloud cover. The rhubarb never wavers. It pushes up new shoots, opens new leaves, and grows and grows with ever increasing pace.

Many more weeks will pass before I even start to sprout other vegetable seedlings indoors. Such wimps! For now, I am in awe of the rhubarb. My hero! My soon-to-be soup. My ever-popular dessert.

And, given the time of year, and the colour of the buds – My Valentine!

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Cleanup

Two days ago, my corner of the world was treated to a smidgen of dry weather. The ground wasn’t dry – that’s just not a possibility this time of the year – but no water poured down from above. The sky was grey with clouds, and, for one heady moment, the sun threatened to burn through in a weak spot. Unfortunately, the spot wasn’t weak enough, and a dull, diffuse light prevailed. A few droplets of rain braved the journey to the ground, but only now and then. That hardly counts at all.

I took all this to be a good omen, and a good opportunity. Feet protected in rubber boots, hands encased in water-resistant gloves, I launched into the backyard and tackled the left section of the garden. There were defunct and decidedly damp bush bean plants to tug out of the ground and consign to the compost pile. Then there were one or two weeds to hoe off. Well, maybe a handful or two of weeds. All right, I admit it. I hoed up three mounds of weeds.

Given that I’m such a dedicated gardener, how do such quantities of weeds appear? Simple answer. They don’t because they can’t. Therefore, those three mounds are a figment of my imagination. Apparently, my camera has quite an imagination, too. For a moment, it saw the piles of weeds.

GardenLeft

But, like all good mirages, the mounds vanished. I mean, really! Weeds? In my garden?

The only thing growing madly in the garden these days is the compost pile. The corn stalks I removed from their place in the right section filled the box to its brim, the pole bean vines from the centre section added a dome, and the bush bean plants from the left section raised it to a tower. If there had been any weeds to add to the tower, it might have threatened to topple. Of course, there were only mirage weeds, not real ones. No problem.

My cleanup of the garden to prepare it for winter slumber is not quite complete. A number of zucchini plants still live, feebly. Occasionally, they will produce a few fingerling fruits to grace our plates with succulence and flavour. I want every last fruit these plants can squeeze out before the first frost kills them. The cold, wet weather is not to their liking, but they are as determined as I am.

Today, cold rain sheets down on the garden. From the warmth of my kitchen, I look out the window and cheer on the zucchinis. I admire the clear areas that I have tidied for winter.

And I dream of spring 2015.