Friday, February 24, 2012

Winter Gardening

Saturday, February 25

Everybody's talking about the springlike temperatures, including me. And why not? Today was so warm—in the upper fifties to low sixties—I didn't even need a sweater. But how about the sun? Nobody's been talking about the astonishing show it's been putting on this month. Out and about for twenty-two consecutive days, during a period when it normally shines no more than fifty percent of the time. Oh yes, some days, like yesterday, the sun's been visible just half of the day and off duty the rest. And some days, it's been flickering on and off as rapidly as the moving clouds. But many of the days, like this one, it's been luminous from start to finish, as if it were July rather than February.

I've been paying special attention to it not only because of these reports but also because of my gardening. The green world, after all, is a gift of the sun. And when it disappears as it did for almost two months during the flood of '93, the harvest is grim. Dead fruit trees, shriveled grapes, thwarted melon vines, rotting onions, diseased tomato plants, smutty corn. The rains contributed to those problems, of course, but the rain alone would not have been so damaging had it alternated with even brief periods of sunlight. Sometimes, I think the deepening depressiveness of that long dark summer could only have been cured by the long sunny fall that followed.

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