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The Winter Garden: Waiting

Goodbye, summer garden

Several nights of temperatures in the twenties last week blackened the remnants of my summer garden — pepper plants and a few herbs. I covered most of the area with rotted chicken manure and hay. It’s brown and flat. A pitiful sight.

Strawberries abed

Broccoli buds wait

This is a pause, a frozen moment, in which the garden doesn’t have much to say or do. If you study on it, however, you see life stirring in small ways. There are a few sturdy broccoli plants with tiny heads buried in the center, waiting for a bit of warmer weather to coax them out. They will wait until spring if necessary.

Swiss chard waits

There remain some arugula and salad greens, although I stripped much of them for a little dinner party last weekend. There are parsley plants thriving, as well as some new cilantro. The strawberry plants are buried under (what else?) straw, still green, waiting for their time. Carrots, beets, Swiss chard — all established, having grown some in the fall, now also wait. Everything waits.

Cilantro waits

Last week a friend asked me if I had ordered my spring seeds yet. I haven’t even thought about it. A few catalogues have arrived, but I will wait until well into January.

Carrots wait

Like Advent itself — the true season now passing on the Christian calendar (Christmas doesn’t start until December 25) — this is a period of gestation before the new birth, the transformation. It requires patience, and stillness, and continued watchfulness on those signs of life. Any little movement — a broccoli bud is slightly larger, the top of a carrot pops up out the ground — is cause for quiet rejoicing.

The garden is dead; long live the garden.

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