Well, we made it. Through squall and storm and biting wind. Even though the lion of March can still rear its feral head, I always feel a great sigh of relief once February is on the books. I’ve been feeling the shift underfoot and in the air over the past couple of weeks- the kind of shift that awakens earthly instincts and shakes loose the shackles of winter’s icy grip. What was laid fallow by shortened days and hostile temperatures will soon nudge towards the surface. The seasons are faithful, and xylem and phloem will flush our world green once again. The day draws nigh when I can throw open the windows and the curtains will billow with the air of a new season. Oh, how I miss that familiar smell!
Even though my beds are still covered with a hefty blanket of snow, a dose of summer, however, is never more than a few feet from my back door. (That’s right Old Man Winter- I got your number, buddy.) The greenhouse is salve for the soul when winter doldrums have settled in. In the dead of January, I can be watering and pruning plants in a tank top, happily breaking a sweat and filling my lungs with thick warm oxygen.
When I’m moving up and down the aisles ducking the fern baskets that grab my hair with their tendrils and brushing by six foot elephant ears, it’s easy to forget that the world outside is asleep. I’ve spent many hours this winter re-organizing and making room to sell seedlings this spring and thinking ahead to fall (already!) so that this time next year I’ll be picking tomatoes and cucumbers. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been starting seeds inside and moving them out to the greenhouse once they get a set of true leaves. So far, we have three types of peppers, sweet basil, holy basil, marigolds, marshmallow, lemon balm, echinacea, and digitalis. I’m constantly trying to think up new ways to make the most of the space out there, and I recently acquired a few dozen plastic hanging baskets. Perfect for lettuce and radishes to be up out of the way.
As I started potting up the basil, I realized we didn’t have NEARLY enough room for all the seedlings, so Jeremy built some more shelving out of pallets.
I get such a kick out of seeing those tender babies all lined up with their name tags just waiting for someone to take them home. In the foreground, there are hibiscus cuttings, elder trees (of course), and mimosa trees. Oh, and the head of a 120 lb. coon hound. Lazy bum!
In the meantime, I’ve had the last meeting of the Homestead Herbalism course I took. That small group of ladies has been a constant for me over the last year. I find it fitting that on the last day we tasted each other’s homemade bitters and my blend seemed to be the sweetest. Just bitter enough to get the juices flowing, but sweet enough to keep me opening that bottle. Which is exactly how I feel at the completion of this course; enough to set me on my path, but ever so hungry for more. Herbs and I will never be far from each other again. I got to introduce a new (to me) herb to the class called self heal, and gifted my classmates with a small jar of salve made from self heal, calendula, and yarrow (all grown or wildcrafted here). My teacher made personalized certificates for each student with an herb she felt suited us…
Me? I got elder. 🙂
On this day in 1899, J.H. Keim writes…”Cloudy with snow high mist wind snow drifty much again. Will was to the creamery, Len was to Pottstown and home by 1 Oclock. Will cleaned our seed oats about 50 bu, we cleaned our wheat through the mill. Mary Keim, David’s wife, is very sick.” (The end of the following day’s entry states that she died in Harmonyville.)
On this day in 1900, J.H. Keim writes…”Clear & stormy. We washed this morning and sewed on Lena’s skirt this afternoon. She helped finish wheat threshing. Will had charge of meeting and had christian business meeting after and then lingered to sing awhile. 2 duck & 21 ch (chicken) eggs.”
On this day in 1906, J.H. Keim writes…”Cloudy part of the day. We hauled 3 load of manure with 2 horses, cut fodder & tended to the cattle. Hervey came home this eavening. Vain (Sylvania P. Keim), took Lena to Pottstown, she went down to Will’s.”