Friday was a cold, damp, wet, dreary day in the North Georgia Piedmont — a day that could have easily given way to dark depressing thoughts to match the elements. In fact, my morning was headed a little bit in that direction until I walked up the hill to gather the mail. My mood brightened considerably when I reached into the mailbox. There it was! The publication that I look forward to every year. The one that assures me that spring is on its way.
No. I’m not talking about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Besides, it came last week. No. As I sorted through the mail Friday I was delighted to find the Park Seed 2013 Planting Book — previously called simply the spring seed catalog, I believe.
For a great part of the afternoon I sat in front of the fire and thumbed through the pages of that catalog.
Now understand. I don’t want to give the impression that I am a gardener. I plant a few annuals every spring and tend to them as best I can throughout the summer. I don’t grow vegetables, although I did once upon a time. Now I am gone far too frequently to attempt a truck garden. But that doesn’t mean I can’t remember when I did — or appreciate those who do. And even though I no longer grow food, I still enjoy eating it. I don’t build beds, either, but I still look forward to a good night’s sleep every evening.
The first few pages of Park Seed were filled with beautiful flowers. Superbells. Petunias. Impatiens. Lantana. All in colors and varieties that I had never seen or even heard of, much less planted.
Just looking at the pictures made me want to go outside and start preparing our flower beds for the coming season.
A glance out the window — and at the thermometer — reminded me why that wasn’t a real good idea. But we recently dug up a whole yard full of shrubs and other plants that had been in place since we built our house, almost 30 years ago. Our yard is a blank canvas now and my lovely wife, Lisa, is really excited about redoing our landscape. I’m sure the new catalog will really whet her appetite — as soon as she can pry it away from me.
Finally I came to the vegetable section. I’m glad I didn’t pick up the mail until after I’d had my lunch. I wanted a tomato sandwich so bad I couldn’t stand it. Park had beautiful pictures of all varieties of the succulent fruit. Heirloom. Moneymaker. Big Boy. Better Boy. Early Girl. I never knew there were so many varieties. I think they had a few Ben Evans hasn’t even heard of.
There were almost as many varieties of peppers as there were tomatoes.
Karma. Sweet Rainbow Blend. Did you realize that you can grow red, green, yellow, orange and purple peppers on the same bush? The Park Seed catalogue even made eggplant look good, and I am not a fan of eggplant.
Browsing through the colorful pages of that book made me think about my mama. No one enjoyed pretty flowers and growing things more than my mama. And nobody cooked fresh vegetables better than her, either. She had a special way of cooking corn-off-the-cob that I have tried to duplicate for years.
Speaking of corn — Silver Queen, Honey Select, Avalon Triple Sweet. You name it, it was in the catalog.
My first instinct, after perusing the pages of that book, was to get out my credit card and order a dozen of everything. Then I remembered that I will be gone most of the summer to one place or another. I also remembered that growing things — especially vegetables — requires plowing, planting, fertilizing, watering, weeding, picking, shelling, spraying and a few other “ings” that I have forgotten about. All of those things require bending, stooping, lifting, sweating and a host of other activities that closely resemble work.
Then I started thinking about how much fun my son, Jackson, and his buddy, Charlie, and I had playing golf last summer. Then, too, I have a long list of books that I have put off reading until school is out — and Wales Barksdale has said we could go to a ballgame every now and then when warm weather gets here.
We have a lot of rabbits around our house and they are bad about eating the tender leaves of a newly sprouting plant. Plus deer. Deer can just tear up a garden. My nephew has goats and they could get out and eat up a flower bed before you can say Jack Robinson. A lot of times tomatoes get blossom end rot, and how many peppers does a fellow actually eat over the course of a summer, anyway?
It kept me occupied for a couple of hours on a cold winter day, but I tossed out that Park Seed book before Lisa could get home from work and order a bunch of stuff that would put me to work this summer.
Don’t judge me. It serves her right. I am certain she was the one that tossed my Sports Illustrated last week.
Darrell Huckaby is a Rockdale County author and educator. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.