by Mary Caelsto
The too-cold and too-bitter days of winter bring with them their own gentle kind of hopeful warmth. It comes in the pages of catalogs that begin to pile up like drifts of snow after a Midwestern storm. Though I no longer live in a land where the phrase “winter is coming” brings with it images of blowing snow and drifts against your car, the frozen, cold ground is just as unforgiving for the seeds and roots which lay within.
And yet, neither sleet nor snow will stop the postman or his bounty of seed catalogs. They arrive a single one, earlier than the rest. Then in twos and threes for those of us who garden and love growing things. Until we have half a dozen or more to look through, each one different and yet the same because each one brings hope.
There’s something very primal about putting a seed in the ground. Early in the season we begin with radishes. I love the round bitter globes with their prickly leaves. They come up early, loving the cooler early spring days. When they are ready to harvest, beneath the soil you find long fat roots or round golf-ball sized globes that you bring inside, wash, and then eat as a snack or on your salad. When a gardener checks on her plantings, she isn’t focusing on the little two leafed sprout coming from the ground. No, she’s thinking about the harvest, about the radish and everything is focused on that goal.
We have seasons inside of us too. There’s a lot that can be said about our disconnect from nature and the seasons today and how that has led to a lot of issues. That’s not our focus. Instead of thinking of disconnect, lack of focus, or a loss of the ability to dream as problems, think of them as your winter. It’s a season. It could be full of storms and ice, shaky power, and worries for the future. Or it could be chilly enough to need a sweater with the occasional frigid day, but overall not that bad. It’s your winter. You get to decide.
The way those of us tied closely to the land get through winter isn’t to trudge about our chores, cursing the snow and ice. We focus on what the season offers and we think about spring. We find the seeds in our catalogs and in ourselves. These seeds are the things we want to grow. It may be tomatoes and leeks in the garden and a business and a sense of purpose for ourselves. Perhaps we want to increase our happiness and reduce our physical pain, which makes us think about planting sunflowers and chamomile.
The key to finding the seed inside of us is the same for finding it for our garden. What do we want? The question isn’t as simple as it may seem at first. We want more money, more time, more energy…but why? Use your winter not as a time of gloom and drudgery, but like a child ready to experience wonder in the snow through play. There you’ll find your seeds because your why will hit you like a gently flung snowball—hard enough to be noticed, but not so hard that it hurts.
With your why and knowing what you want, you can then find the seed. Now that you have the seed, it’s a matter of planting it. Unlike gardeners who have to wait for Mother Nature to make the right time, for your inner seed the time is now. You can create the favorable conditions, can nurture it with the goal—the why—in mind. And when the time is right, that seed will bloom in all of its—all of your—magnificent glory.