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Sowing Spring Seeds

It’s a comfort being on the edge of spring in Kentucky—time of yellow bells, traces of snow, winds tingling windowpanes.

It’s the promising side of one of the four inter-seasons, when weather vagaries lead to bad raps—weather’s crazy in the Commonwealth: find the snow shovel, track through the house, muddy the rugs; slush today, flash flood tomorrow; drivers don’t know how to drive or row their boats.

So, what do the outlanders want? Winter in Buffalo? Summer in Key West? Hurricane season along the Gulf Coast? It could be arranged.

Each one of those predictable places has a private spot in native hearts, yet there’s a steadfast, loyal bunch of us in Kentucky who value other precious certainties—mourning doves who-whooing before and after showers defying forecasts, mist and fog splaying up the valley from Plum—long-legged lightning cracks, thunder crashes—cover of snow skiffed to the chin of the new garden out back.

Which brings us to the full-of-surprises month of March in Kentucky. Spring officially arrives on March 21. If you open this issue of Kentucky Living and read the back page on or about March 1, there are three more weeks of “winter.” There ought to be a better name for it.

How about “win-spring?” This helps to identify the idea of earning spring, which means there’s precious time to plan for a better garden. May we also say that garden is another word for life?

How are the tomato seedlings coming along? Are they soaking up the sun coming through the kitchen window? And the yellow bells: have they awakened any springtime notions in your wintry noggin? (We call them yellow bells, but you may prefer jonquils or daffodils.)

What’s in a name? Not as much as we too often think. It’s the idea that counts—the rich, loamy feeling of possibilities, the excitement of change. There are many reliable resources to stimulate growth. The 1997 March issue of Southern Living is one. It has sections on “start your own seed,” “toiling in soil,” and “tool’s paradise.”

Who knows? This could be the year of the grape. Check out the January 2002 issue of Kentucky Living. The cover alone is an inspiration. “Kentucky’s Vineyards & Wineries” describes how Kentucky was the location for the “first commercial vineyard planted in the United States.” There is also “A Touring Guide” for today’s vineyards and wineries in Kentucky.

“March Madness” doesn’t have to mean basketball, for goodness sake. March Madness can mean the awakening time of the year. It can mean rebirth.

Maybe the spring of 2003 is the year of revisiting grandparents, asking them the seediest of questions. How did you grow your vineyard, your garden? What were your favorite flowers? Your favorite vegetables? Teach me some tricks of the soil so that I can pass them along to my children and their children.

And I’ll tell you what I’ll do! I’ll bring you fresh flowers and vegetables from my garden, and I’ll re-decorate your windowpane. There might even be room for a window box! And when things are growing outside this summer, I’ll come and fetch you and show you what we’ve managed to do together. We’ll sit beneath the water maple and speak of times gone by and good times yet to come. We’ll speak of hope. We’ll resist the temptation to say that our vineyard, our strawberry patch, our beans and potatoes are better than our neighbor’s. We’ll say a little prayer for peace. We’ll remember to share the wealth that springs from our garden. Come, let’s go sow some positive seeds for spring.

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