It’s time to say goodbye again, at least for a while

Yes, I placed that little foot stool in front of the garden section to show you that you could be perfectly comfortable sitting there.

This is the last garden column for 2009, as another garden yearcomes to a close. With the sudden onset of really wintry weather,moving indoors seems a welcome change. We’ve earned our rest, ourtime to sit down, feet up, perhaps with a fire in the fireplace anda cold glass of white wine on the side table. The question arises,however, what to do with all that spare time. Several suggestionsfollow.

We could spend a little time thanking whatever powers we happento believe in that we are, in fact, gardeners and consider what anunearned gift that really is and what lovely benefits it brings.The world turns, the seasons shift, the light changes and we’re inclose touch with it all. We’re graced with an ongoing sense thatwe’re part of something larger than ourselves, that there’s auniverse out there, a universe that isn’t just our road or ourisland. We live closely with what Dylan Thomas called “the forcewhich through the green tube drives the flower.

Recently, here at the Reporter’s office, another staff memberasked me to identify one of the flowers in a photo she was thinkingof using. When I told her what it was, she said, “Are you sure?Isn’t it the wrong color? The others are white and this one is sortof pink. When I replied that she was quite right, it was simplythat the blossom in question was older and that flowers changecolor as they age, she laughed and said, “Oh, just like us! Yes, ofcourse, just like us. To experience ourselves simply as one of manyin the universal growth cycle helps, I think, to accept theinevitable end of that cycle. It may be true that we’re the onlyones here with a written language but that distinction, when allthe similarities are counted, seems to me to be minor.

I once did a classroom presentation for one of mygrandchildren’s second grade class. I brought in a whole lot ofstuff to show them, an ear of corn, peas in a pod, a potato, atomato, an acorn, a dandelion in the fluffy stage and so on. Thelesson was “Every living thing holds within itself, its own future,namely a seed. Then we tried to identify the seeds in each of theitems I had brought and they were enjoined to look for more.Fortunately no one asked about us, about humans, so I didn’t haveto say, “go home and ask your mother but I love that fact, one thata gardener lives in such close proximity to.

Two more things to do: the first is to think. Thinking is key togardening and you can do it sitting down. Take out your gardennotebook (You haven’t bought one yet? Go out now and do it!) andwrite yourself some notes. What went well this season, what was adisappointment. Was there some color you missed or a part of theyear when you had nothing in bloom? Think of a possible remedy,then check your catalogs and think of a solution.

The second is to answer the following question truthfully: Whenwas the last time you have either gone online to get some gardeninginformation or checked out the new (or not new) books in theShelter Island Public Library? If the answer is within the pastthree or four weeks, you get a gold star. If not, then your winterplan is clear. The reference number for the garden section in thelibrary begins at 630.0. On a cold afternoon, go to the library andsit on the floor (or, if you’re fussy, one of those little stepstools) in front of that section – it’s at the end of the fourthaisle from the side door – and see what’s there. Make sure youcheck something out, take a book home with you to look at atleisure. Go on the library computer, the staff there will show youhow to do that, and send for some books by famous gardeners,Gertrude Jekyll or Ruth Stout for example.

Now, you see? It’s almost spring! Take care, everyone, andhappy, merry everything!