March 1, 2013

The Most Excellent Season

What is the most excellent season of the year? Ah, but the answer is complex. Each season is certainly unique in its flavors; possessing its own individual magic. And there are sub-seasons within the seasons, such as “early spring” and “late winter,” that further complicate the answer. In the Maritime Pacific Northwest, each season has wonderful attributes.

Fall is lovely and restful. Deep jewel-tones in the landscape appear as chlorophyll levels drop, allowing the natural reds, oranges, and burgundies of leaves to shine through. Cool, misty mornings remind us that winter is not far away. Eventually, fall’s chilly winds will strip leaves and needles from the branches of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs, blanketing the ground beneath. Below the surface of the soil, silent growth continues during fall and winter, when perennial plants and trees work to strengthen their root systems for the next year’s growth. Fall is a wonderful season.

Summer is certainly a favorite. Its long days filled with warmth and brilliant sunlight, summer facilitates the growth of myriad plant and animal life forms feverishly attempting to cram a year’s worth of living into a few short months. Summer is bright, wonderful and exhausting. Juicy watermelon, barbeques, fragrant peaches and family picnics put summer way up there on the list for the earth’s human inhabitants, while plants produce a year’s worth of bounty for the enlightened gardener. Summer is wonderful.

Ah, but sweet spring! Starting out shy and pastel, spring sees tiny sprouts of broadleaf plants and velvety grasses pushing up through dark, moist soil. Spring brings out millions of buds on tree and shrub, gradually opening to form brilliantly colored flowers and leaves, enhancing the view while banishing the muted grays and browns of the winter landscape. Birds return, filling the outdoors with songs of hope and joy. Fat, white clouds move across the sky, in turn obscuring and revealing the sun. Spring is definitely a contender.

But right now, my favorite season is winter; more specifically: late winter. This season has a trick of filling our hearts with such hope and promise and expectation! The scent of the air inside the greenhouse is intoxicating. The deep and complex aroma of damp, mineral-rich soil combines with the fragrances wafting up from dozens of flats of green sprouting things. “Eau de greenhouse” evokes in the farmer positive memories; generating intense emotions of delight and expectation for the upcoming season.

Yes, late winter is marvelous. In addition to the early plantings, dozens more seed packages, each one containing the genetic material for hundreds of individual plants, wait for their turn on the propagation mats. Each in its turn is carefully planted and cared for and spoken to and in due course moved outdoors to put down roots in the garden, for the purpose of nurturing our bodies and our spirits.

Which season is the most excellent for you?