Friday, May 6, 2011

The Magic of Seeds

The magic happens each spring. The cold, grey days of winter gradually warm to green. The robins and sparrows and slate juncos return to peck at the ground, their boisterous songs drowning out the happy warbling of the winter chickadees. The peepers sing their chorus from ponds and pools of snowmelt. And we plant seeds.

Our house has a large, south-facing window, reaching nearly a third of the way across the long living room, and that is where we start our summer garden. Into little pots of musty soil go the tiny, round seeds of broccoli and the larger seeds of zucchini, butternut squash, cucumbers. Most of the others we plant directly in the ground. But it’s too hard to wait until the end of May to sow the dream of fresh vegetables picked sun-warmed from the backyard garden.

Fairytales like Jack and the Beanstalk tell of magic seeds that reap adventure and riches. I don’t expect any of our seedlings to grow to the clouds. Still, there is something enchanting about planting seeds in the spring. There is magic in the promise of the summer bounty that will grow from these tiny seeds, planted when the garden has not yet thrown off the grip of winter. With a bit of dirt and water, sunlight and care, patience and hope, the magic emerges.

It has snowed since my young children helped me start the broccoli, their little fingers struggling with the miniscule seeds. Some mornings there is still a heavy frost, and today there is a crisp, white coating of snow on the mountaintops. But the broccoli plants are up a few inches. The squash we planted last week is beginning to pop through the soil, the succulent leaves emerging tiny before they spread and grow, reaching for the sun, reaching for summer.

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