Seeds were half price at Rite Aid on Wednesday, so I bought three packets. The brand name, Ferry-Morse "since 1856," brought back fond memories of reading seed catalogs when we lived in colder climes. Hard-copy seed catalogs have been largely replaced by the Internet. Ecologically sound, but not as comforting when "that February feeling gets you down on the farm" as Lisa wrote in one of her Pennsylvania poems.
Musing today on seed catalogs past, I remember telling Elizabeth that I had just received a new seed catalog in the mail. She said she had lots of them, was studying them thoroughly, and had almost finished planning her garden. Her large orders for seeds -- flower and vegetable -- were almost complete. This puzzled me, for Elizabeth lived in a small upstairs apartment without even a balcony for container gardening. I thought maybe she had space on the roof or had joined a community garden. When I asked where she was going to plant her seeds, she told me her garden was in England, not Evanston, and, of course, was imaginary.
Remembering Elizabeth's fantasy garden sends me farther back in time to places farther east. A colleague asks whether I am "making garden" and wants to know what I am planting. When I mention swiss chard, Laurie bellows: "Swiss chard? Swiss chard? Sounds like some goddamn White Anglo Saxon Protestant vegetable!" Laurie, a New York Jew proud to be bringing enlightenment to western Pennsylvania, must have had a very special garden. But don't we all?
My new seed packets take me down primrose paths leading into the past and future. Will this year's sunflowers fare better than those stolen by squirrels over 30 years ago?