Wow. What a surreal time it is.
Today is the first full day of spring, but I just learned that day and night are not actually equal on the equinox, that the sun we see each sunset has already dropped below the horizon. The more I learn, the less I know…
The rain has come and we are grateful, but the streets are often empty. The sky is cleaner than it has been in decades. Neighbors I have never seen in the 8 years I've lived here are out walking and chatting (from a distance). No stores. No errands. A friend texts and asks if I have any eggs available. I am happy I can tell her I do.
Suddenly, my hens and my garden have taken on greater meaning. Being older and immunocompromised, going to a store is too risky. My husband is willing, but we both know he might just as easily bring COVID-19 in with the groceries.
Luckily, I was very poor when I was young. I learned the importance of shopping wisely, buying storable things on sale, and always making sure you had beans, rice, lentils, flour, sugar, and canned vegetables on hand. We are, for the time being, self-sufficient in San Jose.
None of us know how long this will last. A month, two months, a year, forever. We simply do not know. My guess is that we will have this under control before summer. In case I am wrong, I am shifting my garden design to be more in line with a survival garden than just a fun thing to do.
But gardening is fun and that’s where a goodness equal to the food I harvest comes in. Gardening in these uncertain times provides me with a grounding, a centering, a wider perspective. Summer and autumn will come. The trees will produce sweet juicy nectarines, crisp apples, and delicious almonds. I will plant seeds, pull weeds, and repair a patch of netting. I will clean and sharpen my garden tools, toss my compost pile around, craft the shape of ornamental and edible trees and shrubs, and collect eggs.
I will, as I always do, can tomatoes and green beans, and make marmalade, fig jam, and nectarine preserves, regardless of whether or not it’s safe to go or be anywhere else. The plants don’t know or care about COVID-19. Either do the bees and other pollinators.
It is spring and the cycle of life is continuing as it always has out in the garden. The artichokes have started to come in. My almond tree is covered with baby almonds. The lettuces, chicories, kale, and chard are gearing up for heavy production. The compost pile is cooking itself into an excellent top dressing for my raised beds. A pair of Barbary doves are considering building a nest under my pergola. Everything is going to be alright.
Stay home. Be well.
If you have even the tiniest space that gets a few hours of sunlight, plant a seed. Watch it grow. Care for it. You’ll both be better off.
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Kate Russell, writer, gardener, and so much more.