“We have really only that one light, one source for all power, and yet we must turn away from it by universal decree. Nobody here on the planet seems aware of this strange, powerful taboo, that we all walk about carefully averting our faces, this way and that, lest our eyes be blasted forever.”

— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

So many of you still have your gardens under a heavy blanket of snow that I do sometimes feel a bit guilty, whining about not being able to get out and garden as I’d like by the end of February.  But we can all experience the sun now, and it’s fun to realize that we all regularly participate in this unacknowledged, universal taboo, in every season, on every continent, and at almost every latitude.

Of course excepting the Arctic Circle where human beings are now experiencing perpetual Polar Night or Polar Twilight.  I’m in awe of the psychological fortitude required to live out this season in such places.  Comparatively, I’m a total winter weakling.

Today the sun has been with us, but has not managed to overcome the deep chill in the air.  It’s so cold I’m back to all my January behaviors, wanting to hunker down inside with a meaty novel and a cozy blanket, even resorting to making a cup of hot chocolate once twilight settled in the hollow.  My current read is John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, although I do highly recommend the origin of the above quote, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek; both are winners of the Pulitzer Prize.

The cats seem to be responding to other signals somehow, spending as much time as possible outdoors, Booty traipsing back inside coated with shimmering mica dust, Leo bringing back the results of his renewed energy for stalking prey, and both of them beginning the infamous spring shed.  (Spring is truly the season where I heart my vacuum cleaner.)

And the garden, too, is responding to some cues I must be missing in this unseasonable chill.  The rosemary is perking up and possibly preparing to flower, the garlic shoots are suddenly reaching for the sky, and the recently-thinned radishes are fattening up, as F. verified with an impressive Daikon he sampled today.

One pea is even sprouting.  I’m hoping he’s the advanced outlier on a bell curve of peas that not only survived the snows and cold nights, but might feel right at home in such conditions.  Peas, you will remember, are my new vegetable to try growing in 2010, and as such I have no idea what to expect.  Our last recommended planting date for bringing them to maturity before the heat sets in was February 15th.

This one may be a freak who survived against all odds — or the sign that not all is lost.  Even so, if the peas fail utterly, I have other seeds to plant in their place.

In the garden, it is hard to lose it all; isn’t it?  The flow of life and possibility never ceases, even if we’re stuck contemplating it only in the mind’s eye while snuggled under a blanket.

5 Responses to “taboo”

  1. I love fresh garden peas–I hope yours have survived the cold winter. Our landscape is a sorry sight, but I see buds on the dogwood, and new green growth on our pentas. Spring is coming!

  2. The weather here is getting hotter by day. With less rain, vegetables grow better but require daily watering… Surprising because, the water that plants dearly need to survive is detrimental when they come pouring down…. Seedlings will have slim chance in such condition… Good luck to your peas … ~bangchik

  3. I hope your peas survive. I’m one of those northern gardeners who’s garden is still under snow although it’s been a mild winter so spring may come in April this year.

  4. Living here in the valley of the sun, I do avert my eyes from it.
    However it is raining today.

  5. “Psychological fortitude”, I like that. For me it’s more like, “no choice in the matter” or perhaps “sink or swim.” Planting out sweet peas sound really dreamy right now…but then I’m not particular. Being able to plant anything at this point would be bliss.

    Christine in Alaska

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