A few months back, I wrote about plantis prematuris, that annual futility rite in which winter-weary gardeners seduced by the scent of spring till the soil far too early, knowing full well that frost, snow or some other predictable calamity is apt to kill their tender young charges.
I planted kale and spinach – two cold-weather crops — in the sheltering embrace of a cold frame, so my optimism on that unseasonably warm February afternoon wasn’t completely unjustified. Yet I fretted when winter returned, bringing freezing temperatures and a skiff of snow.
But my little seeds soldiered on, sleeping through the frosty spells and absorbing energy from the lengthening daylight and warming soil. Two months later, my late-winter crop was pushing skyward.
I was thrilled. Fresh garden greens from my own yard in early April! Kale smoothies! Spinach salads! Treats for the hens! That heady sense of accomplishment that accompanies dumb luck masquerading as gardening skill!
It lasted about a month. Two weeks ago, I came home from work to discover the cold frame pulverized by a violent hailstorm. The lids were shattered, along with my hopes for a long and happy relationship with my burgeoning crop.
I surveyed the damage, wondering if, given time, the broken and battered plants might yet recover. But the leaf-stripped stems looked so defeated, and my hens — who are not big on mourning — looked so hopeful. I turned them loose to clean up the casualties.
And then, fell into a mild funk. Such a promising start! And now, no more kale smoothies; no more lightly steamed, deeply green spinach to offset the lovely orange yolks of my girls’ eggs. I couldn’t bring myself to look at those pricey grocery-store greens with their coarse stems and tough leaves, let alone buy them.
But a few days ago, I got a second wind.
I am not by nature a malingerer; I like the philosophy immortalized in A League of Their Own, a fictionalized account of the All-American Girls Baseball League of the 1940s and ’50s. Here’s the key scene, in which crusty team manager Tom Hanks reacts with exasperation to a weepy player he has just chewed out:
It is pointless and unbecoming to mope about The Way Things Are, whether in baseball, gardening, or life itself. Better to take the bat firmly in hand, step up to the plate and try again.
I gathered myself, and a couple of hours later, a glue gun and clear plastic film had restored my cold frame to serviceable condition. Beneath the repaired lids, a new generation of kale and spinach seeds settled into the damp earth, waiting on the sun’s return. Pregnant with possibility.