Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Month of Wind and Taxes

Indoors or out, no one relaxes
In March, that month of wind and taxes,
The wind will presently disappear,
The taxes last us all the year.
~Ogden Nash (1902–1971), "Thar She Blows"  [Tax Day used to be March 15th from 1918 through 1954, not April 15th as we know it today. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens (1812–1870), Great Expectations

“Only those with tenacity can march forward in March” 
― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

The first sweet potato cuttings of the season came in looking like a wilted lettuce salad.  And this was the sweet potato that was delivered.  Another four hundred plants were ordered...and then cancelled.  Was this sudden shortfall of ornamental sweet potato due to the unanticipated bankruptcy of one of our favorite sources for cutting raised plants?  Analogous to the accordion effect one car in a thousand braking for a daredevil squirrel.has on three lanes of congested traffic.  Or is it just Nature's way of reminding me that it goes against the order of the world as created by Almighty God to expect summery plants like Marguerite and Blackie to thrive...or even grow!... before the Ides of March. What I'm saying is there is a natural order that waits for some signal from the sun and the earth even if the the man maintained environment all around seems ideal.  The tomato seeds I plant in February are a little reluctant to emerge compared to those planted when the days grow longer...even though they are all planted in a room with light twenty four hours a day!  Never ceases to amaze and mystify...

The Timehop tells of March madness past: the snow days with grandkids at play in empty greenhouse bays and at work transplanting, or watering, or even getting a haircut.  There are lists four foot long and towers ten foot high that correlate with sun rise shots before the equinox and sunset pictures after the spring forward. And water, water everywhere: an irrigation boom making its slow crawl down the bay like an April thunder shower on the western horizon, a water wand seemingly suspended in mid air while the photographer acts as deux machina. As March marches, water is the driver; a multitude of baby plants cries for water like hatchlings in a nest.  Strapping teenage transplants are drama queens, wilting under an afternoon sunspot.  The curve for water in March is an increase at an increasing rate: in math terms, exponential.

February may have set records in northern Missouri, but our truckload of potting soil apparently originated somewhere so far north that the middle of each bale was more akin to permafrost than peat-lite mix.  The guys filling pots climbed inside the bale breaker with a sharp edged spade, but the biggest chunks still lie outside like over-sized Idaho potatoes awaiting the oven.  Matt stuck his finger into one this afternoon, gauging its temperature, and declaring it 'done' and ready to be scooped back into the dirt machine. We are expecting another truckload on Monday, the fourth of the year, and hope against hope that this bunch will be thawed.

Two weeks to go in March and two greenhouse remain unopened, without heat or plants.  Blake has begun his familiar March refrain:"I don't think we are going to need all this space."..."Why did we build that new greenhouse?"....and...just for variety.."I think we can turn one of these empty greenhouses into a batting cage!"  We tolerate this humor now, but by April 1st, there will be hundreds of flats of tomatoes and the flowers for three different school fundraisers awaiting transplant and we will be deciding how narrow a walkway one can navigate with two feet and 150' of garden hose. As the tension mounts, the sense of humor shrinks...another mathematical function increasing at an increasing rate! Two in one blog post...imagine that!

When we unwrap the box from Botany Lane containing the two trays of succulents, we can't help oohing and aahing and patting the trays.  Baby succulents are like puppies; everyone loves them and no one can resist them.  The difference is that succulents remain cute and never drag the clothes off the line....

The first soybeans in Atchison county have cracked the surface.  Everyone I know is curious about the soybeans in pots we are growing for a fundraiser.  I am too.  How many soybean plants does it take to make some tofu?  Are these beans going to grace a salad?  Be a snack?  Is edamame going to become a household word?    And the same goes for the stevia cuttings...another new crop for Hurst Greenery.  So unfamiliar, we didn't recognize them when we unpacked them.  For your information, they look a lot like lobelia as a plug...

The perfume of pansies meets me at the door of the annex, a sure sign that we are on the cusp of spring.  Is any flower more lovely than a pansy face?  Be-whiskered, blushing, brilliant and bold or subtly shaded, I suppose it's just as well they flourish only in the cool season, else we should shun every other flower with a lesser palette.

“AND what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;”

No one would dream of applying James Russell Lowell's paean in praise of June to March.  And yet...and yet....on a bright and breezy Sunday afternoon when the watering is done, payroll complete, and our tummies full of another great St. Paul's Spring Dinner, it is possible to imagine Heaven leaning down to watch kids on bikes, or throwing baseballs, fathers and sons sitting in lawn chairs by their backyard campfire, golfers out for the first time, and gardeners peeking at the crabapple trees or picking up sycamore limbs. 

There might even be kids fishing with a stick for moss....and like its the first of July.

March can be rare like that.

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