Spring is trying to break its way up through the ground here in chilly Chicago. Our city is rife with confused 35 degree days, random snow flurries, and disgruntled people tired of wearing coats. I’m through with it, and longing for 60 degrees and a little plot of ground to call my own. Isaiah and I often try to find our way to what we call “uneven ground,” or really anything that isn’t concrete. We get ourselves to parks or little patches of grass and revel in the feeling of something just a little less solid under our feet, a little more to navigate, and little more give.
I’m needing some uneven ground beneath my feet, particularly a little plot of land for growing things in, a bit of earth. I feel like Mary Lenox, trapped in a big grey drafty house on the moor and waiting to find my secret garden. It seems I always need a project, some sort of something to keep me planning and scheming and making things with my hands. The project I want most right now is a little garden with damp, dark soil. I want seeds to place just-so, I want a watering can and a little sun hat and dirty knees. I want to let my shoulders get tan while I dig around, listening to podcasts or Simon and Garfunkle in the background, all the while feeling the hours go quickly by. I want to do the thing where your nose is itchy but your hands are dirty so you sort of swipe it with the back of your wrist three or four times and hope that satisfies. I want to grow tomatoes and green beans, flowers and herbs. I want to research it all, because I’m sitting here and I don’t even know what grows well in the summer, what sort of thing is good to start with, what sort of climate to expect in Chicago. It’s a kind of domestic pipe-dream, thought up in days far too busy, not near sunny enough, and with too much time spent with my face near a screen. If my grandfather were still alive, I’d ask him what it would take to start. As I sit I remember his elaborate garden that he kept with my grandma, the walls covered in chicken-wire he built for it, the carefully planted rows, the big pink flowers by the gate.
For now, I’m not sure whether I’ll try it in any real way, at least right now. Probably not. I expect this summer I’ll earnestly plant some herbs in terracotta pots and hope for the best. I’ll keep dreaming of it though, my own bit of earth, some personal uneven ground to make even more uneven. While I’m here and stuck inside, I’ll gather some things for sunnier times, things that could help me grow something useful and cultivate my own bit of earth.
- Copper Garden Trowel, for digging down, down, down.
- Chrome-Plated Garden Pruners, to cut away the dead parts.
- Garden Sign, because clarification is never a bad thing.
- Liberty Print Shirt, because florals and spring and gardening all live together in my mind.
- Woven Doormat, for wiping soil off shoes, or better yet, keeping gardening shoes in till the next time to dig.
- EVA Birkenstocks, for a garden-friendly, rinseable, rubbery take on the old classic.
- Floret Summer Blues Seed Collection, because keeping blue summer blooms around is just plain healthy.