The garden looks the way I feel – beaten, worn down and frozen – after the second snowiest winter on record.
The earth is almost a colorless brown. The dirt has formed wrinkles like it has aged.
Many months have passed since The Green Thumbs picked our last vegetable of 2013 and took down our fence at community garden plot No. 6.
At that time, fall was still dropping leaves, and lettuce was still growing. But we left the green salad leaves for the hungry deer and birds to scavenge. We had done all the gardening we could do. Jack Frost was ready to bite.
More than 18 snowstorms blew through our township over the winter months. Our families shoveled driveways and sidewalks. We put salt down and waited for the snow plows to come down our streets. The kids rejoiced and then went back to sleep each morning the superintendent called to announce that that school was closed due to inclement weather. Even on the too few sunny days, our children dodged icy spots on their way to the school bus because the arctic vortex and severe temperatures took hold. We bundled up with coats, gloves, hats and scarves when we ventured outside. We wore more boots than sneakers, more pants than skirts, more Chapstick than sunscreen.
The winter was harsh and long. Our garden remained fallow and unattended.
In March, when the calendar finally turned to spring, I scooted over to the garden to take a look. The wind howled around my car. The battered American flag that we left in the center of our spot stood strong and whipping in the frigid gusts. Our row of strawberries remained marked off and almost unrecognizable in the barren field. Our lone blueberry bush reminded me of the stick arms of a snowman.
The conditions of Old Man Winter continue to linger even now. But in a few more weeks, The Green Thumbs plan to plant lettuce, onions, radishes and okra. We expect the fresh green sprouts to push the last remnants of winter away. Then we’ll add eggplant, herbs, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers to usher in the summer.
The garden can sleep a little longer if it wants, but soon the sun will nudge it awake with longer days, and The Green Thumbs will be ready to go to work.