What inspires you? More importantly, what inspires you in the garden?
A couple years ago, I went around the community asking people this very question. Most of them admitted their inspiration came from their parents or grandparents who had always gardened and passed this trait to their offspring.
But some admitted they were first generation gardeners who took up the hobby for various reasons. My favorites were the creative folks who began their gardening while apartment dwelling. They learned to use containers and were often surprised at how much could be squeezed into the smallest of spaces. Others had moved into new houses with space they had never known before; lots of space that needed filled with as many plants as possible.
Everyone who gardens has not just one, but several stories to tell. Some spoke of booming seasons when the vegetable garden overflowed with produce and the flowers were in bloom from April to October. Others remembered leaner times, the tomato blight summer or the year no one could grow a decent bell pepper.
All of this is fun to hear and everyone seems to have a different perspective, but what about now? When the skies are gray and every morning the ground is coated with frozen dew, what keeps that inspiration going? When the weeds are so deep that it's easier to just give up, what keeps us going?
Like a Cleveland Browns fan who keeps going back every weekend even though we know what the end result will be, when spring is right around the corner, the thought of digging in the dirt starts to enter our mind. We pick up those seed catalogs or browse the newspaper for early season offerings at the garden centers and we forget what it was like last season as we start thinking about next year.
This is where I am. After a particularly trying summer that included a failing vegetable garden and weak perennial showings, I was glad the season was finally over. The weeds were frozen and what didn't die completely back began to lie down in submission to the coming winter months. When the catalogs began arriving, I tossed them aside without a second glance. The leftover seed packets were put away, out of sight, in the far back of the refrigerator and I stopped reading my favorite garden bloggers.
And then one of my Facebook friends posted something very short and simple that got my attention. She wrote, ''Only 106 days until spring!''
What? That's all?
If someone were to say, ''only 106 days until Christmas,'' we would all start to sweat that we didn't have our shopping done. If my granddaughter calls to tell me, ''only 106 days until my birthday,'' I would begin to feel old and hear my mother's voice when my own children announced their upcoming birthdays.
But tell me there's only 106 days until spring and I can honestly believe that it's doable.
Before the nights dipped below freezing, we dumped several inches of much-needed fertilizer on the entire garden. Just like those football fans, I can tell myself that next year will bring better results. I have comfort in knowing that most of the weeds have met their demise and aren't mocking me each time I look out the window. If I start early enough in the spring, I can defeat them, I tell myself.
For now, the buds on the Christmas cactus are beginning to lengthen. Any day they will burst open and flood the plant with color. Birds donning their winter colors are beginning to frequent the freshly washed and filled feeders that were put away for the summer. The furnace has been humming along for quite some time, and although it's mid-December and we still haven't gotten any significant snowfall, we know it is inevitable.
But by the end of the week, spring will only be 96 days away. By next month, even less. It will be here before I know it. I'd better start planning.