Archive for February, 2013

Memories are often obscure and elusive threads in the fabric of our psyche, but sometimes an image or incident will recall a hidden remembrance and release a vignette from the past. I experienced this recently when an online ad caught my eye, and I was transported from my web surfing to relive one of my childhood’s greatest pleasures.

The ad hawked Burpee’s seeds and nursery plants, and I was immediately reminded of the excitement that the arrival of the Henry Fields seed catalog elicited among our family members. My mother was an avid gardener and had a thumb as green as Ireland. She generally ordered seeds from the Fields catalog, and we would pore over the colorful book for hours.

I devoured every page, imagining rows of peas and corn, emerald shoots of onion blades, and dewy cabbage heads. My mother usually added to my vegetarian fantasies by cultivating plants that were not widely grown in our region at that time. She was the only gardener that I knew who actually grew eggplant, lemon cucumbers, and kohlrabi.

In addition to my vivid daydreams of vegetable gardening, I enjoyed looking at all the flowers and reading their names. The roses were my favorites both for beauty and for their romantic and interesting monikers. American Beauties and Mister Lincolns blazed from the pages in scarlet glory, but they could not eclipse Charlotte Armstrong’s bold pink petals or Jeanne d’Arc’s virtuous white blossoms. I found the Peace rose to be the most beautiful, but its name left me dissatisfied. There was nothing peaceful about the brillance of the burnished yellow petals streaked with fiery pink.

Along with vegetables and flowers, fruit held a prominent place in the catalog. I feasted my eyes and honed my reading skills on pages filled with glowing apples labeled MacIntosh and Jonathan, ruby Montmorency cherries, and blushing Elberta peaches.

The gardening catalog usually came in the mail in February, and with it came a hint of spring. The wind could blow and snowflakes beat the windowpanes, but Henry Fields proffered golden ears of corn, crimson tomato globes, orange sheaves of carrots, orchards of fruit, and a rainbow of flowers. Winter’s cold and ice could not withstand the warmth and brightness that emanated from those vibrant pages.

Harbingers of spring still abound. A note of birdsong, a warm breeze, blue skies, and greening grass all herald its approach, but I still long for roses and apples in February and for the mailman to bring the promise of bounty and beauty to my door.


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