Garden Talk

LeAnn posted this blog on Monday, January 10th, 2011 at 1:53 pm

The other day, I had to drive to the next town over to cover a court hearing for the newspaper. It had started to snow before I left. It was not a hard, heavy snow, but it was a miserable snow. The wind was blowing hard from the west so that the north/south portions of the roads were subject to snow blowing off the fields and across the roads. The visibility wasn’t too bad, but it was snowing hard enough so that the hills and valleys and trees were somewhat obscured.

At one point, I came around a corner, and there was a car in the ditch. The girl was still sitting in the car, too, so it must have just happened. She had probably taken the corner too fast, and I think she did one of those spins in the middle of the road before she hit the ditch.

In the “good old days” I would have stopped to see if she was all right or needed help or needed a ride. Nowadays, because I know pretty much everyone has a cell phone, especially the younger drivers, I don’t even bother. What’s the point when they have probably already called for help before I asked? I knew that it was slippery even before I saw the car in the ditch, so I had been extra careful all along.

Between the blowing snow and the slippery roads and the obscured hills and valleys, it seemed especially ironic to me that the topic on public radio was gardening. It was one of those call-in garden shows where people call and ask questions about their plants, and the guest, usually someone from the University of Wisconsin or UW-Extension, answers their questions. Sometimes, too, their experts are from a big, well-known garden center.

People called about tomatoes. And squash. And hydrangeas. And fruit trees. And peppers. And orchids. And Christmas cactus. And raspberries. And onions. And lilacs. And prairie flowers.

A couple of people, too, talked about the garden catalogs they had already received and wondered what variety of this or that would be the best to order.

I had a hard time reconciling the idea that it was a snowy January day — and people were talking about their garden plants. It was as if they were expecting to go right out and act on whatever advice the expert gave them. Except, how could they? It’s January. In Wisconsin. We won’t be able to turn over any soil and plant anything for at least another three months. Another 12 weeks of cold and snow and ice and below zero temperatures.

Well, maybe not the entire 12 weeks of cold and snow and ice and below zero temperatures, but still. Even at the end of 12 weeks, if the frost has gone out of the ground, the soil will still be too cold to think about planting anything.

But I guess that’s the thing about humans, isn’t it. We are always looking forward and planning ahead. Even when there’s snow on the ground and it’s below zero and spring is months away. . .

LeAnn R. Ralph

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