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Jewish World Review August 29, 2002 / 21 Elul, 5762

Michelle Kennedy

Michelle Kennedy
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Consumer Reports


The dream of winter, a promise of summer


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | In the middle of the winter they come. Two, sometimes three at a time. And I am always very excited to see them. I take them in and I sit with them on the couch, stroking their lovely covers. Covers that evoke promises of warmth and color. A welcome sight in the drab grays of January and February.

Seed catalogs. I love my seed catalogs. Each year there seems to be no end to the amount and variety I receive. From gourmet kitchen vegetables to specialized tulip bulbs, I read them over and over. Their elaborate descriptions conjure the vision of ornate and baroque gardens in my mind.

This year, I think, I will plant. I will dig and plant it all. The image is fixed in my brain. The driveway will be lined with weeping willows and welcoming perennials, staggered appropriately according to their flowering time so there is always something in bloom.

The front porch will have an amalgam of annuals, carefully chosen and constantly replaced so there is always something seasonal with which to greet my guests. My backyard will begin with an arbor. A beautiful arch that will entrance young and old alike and transport them into my personal arboretum.

Walk with me. On the right is the vegetable garden, an immense vegetable garden, bursting with plentifulness and veggies-to-be. Take off your shoes. We will walk along the well-mulched paths and pick the ripe fruits, waiting to be coddled in my kitchen.

"Oh, a stray weed," you say. Not to worry. We'll just pluck this lone stranger up and place him in the compost pile. No, no, not that one, it has the ready-to-use compost in it. Place it in Bin 3, I say. Because I have even organized my compost that well.

Leaving the well worn paths of the vegetable garden, we trod through the newly mown plush grass to the kitchen garden. Just a little hobby of mine, I'll say. Here is where I pick the fresh herbs that will flavor our vegetables for supper. Before it gets cold, I will dry them and keep them for winter. The kitchen garden also harbors my small, miniature vegetables: hot peppers that need special care and maybe a variety of baby lettuces for an immediate salad at any time.

Pick some of that rosemary, will you, and then I'll show you the pond. I overwinter the Koi and plant water lilies to make it more beautiful. Have a seat under the weeping willow tree (I like willow trees) on this cedar bench I picked up at a craft fair and dangle your toes in the cool water. Nothing like a perfect summer day.

Flash forward: It's May. I have spent the better part of a Saturday digging a pea patch. It's three feet long and three feet wide, maybe three inches deep. I'm sweaty, and my hands are covered with blisters. I decide I need a tractor, but I continue on, determined to make my backyard a haven.

Three weeks later, finally finished with the digging, I have what qualifies as a very small garden plot. I plant stuff. But I forgot to get those little seed stick thingies, so I forget what's where. Oh well, it will be obvious soon enough.

June: It was almost obvious what was up, but then a rabbit ate some of it, and now I can't tell. I buy some straw to put between the rows, and now the grass won't grow anymore, but I can't remember which row was which.

The mosquitoes are out. They love the wet little area I call my garden. I take to sitting in my garage and grilling burgers to keep them away. With a little paint it could be nice here. Didn't I read something about container gardening?

By July the garden is completely overgrown. I look at it occasionally. I pull a weed or two, but inevitably get distracted by bugs or the need for a cool drink. Also, the kids want me to take them to the beach. How can I say no?

In August, I find a couple of tomatoes without bug holes in them and some nice green beans. The rabbits ate the lettuce. They can have it. Turns out lettuce is only 99 cents in August at the supermarket. And it's cool in there.

I drag some early fallen leaves and branches over to my idea of a compost pile. It appears that this is where the children have been leaving their watermelon rinds and apple cores. I think a family of skunks lives under there now.

Fall has arrived, and the garden is turned under (OK, I actually just threw a pile of leaves on top). My hopes for another gardening season have once again been dashed by my overzealousness and basically lazy nature. On the flipside, though, the garage is starting to really perk up.

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JWR contributor Michelle Kennedy, who reads and responds to all of her mail, is a reporter and columnist for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. Comment by clicking here.

Up

07/26/02: My Martha Stewart fantasy
06/25/02: Deliver us from Walt
06/06/02: This game fits parents to a tee
05/09/02: "Shut up!" "Stop shoving!" it's Mother's Day
04/18/02: Yes, They're All Mine!
03/25/02: Thrust into a Barbie dreamland
02/01/02: Shooting the 'surplus population'
12/20/01: Zen and the Art of Clutter
12/14/01: Confessions of a serial library fine payer
12/06/01: Too good at my job, I quit

© 2001, Michelle Kennedy