Nature Notes – From the Backyard to the Biosphere. Planting and Paddling: When Winter Dreams Come to Life

Nature Notes – From the Backyard to the Biosphere. Planting and Paddling: When Winter Dreams Come to Life

I know I’m not the only one who practically salivates when this warm weather starts to roll around. It’s finally time for those winter dreams to spring to life. Poring over seed catalogues, following the river’s winding path on the topo map, researching the best time to strike out on that section of the trail not yet travelled–these are all such delicious ways to spend winter evenings. But nothing can compare to the knowledge that It’s all about to be experienced in the flesh; no more paddling through the cerebrum, no more planting that imaginary garden, no more hiking through the intellect: It’s all about to be carried out in the real world. The old brain can look forward to taking a break and letting the body and senses take over.

For me, the day my seed packages arrive in the mail is always a time of great excitement. This year, the wondrous moment came just a couple of days ago. I got back late from this year’s first jaunt out of the city and was aching to just go to bed, deal with all my gear and remnant foodstuff tomorrow. But that big parcel sticking out of the mailbox could not be mistaken: it must be my seeds.

I couldn’t (and so didn’t) wait to rip open the envelope and pore over the details of each species: height, flower colour, wildlife species attracted by the plant, preferred growing conditions . . . technicalities that, to a non-plant person, would be exceedingly tedious always get my blood pumping a little faster, and kept me up that night refining in my mind the exact location of each planting. Aargh?the only problem is that It’s still too early to plant many of the seeds outdoors, and I just don’t have the space or light to ?plant indoors for earlier blooms?; I have to wait just a little longer . . . but at least I know I’m getting close.

For me, a car-less city dweller, planning canoeing and hiking trips is a little more complex than prepping for my gardening adventures. Or should I say carrying out these trips is a little more complex. Planning is not a problem: topo maps, dull as they may seem to some, for me spell summer beauty, peace and the absolute leaving behind of city woes, and represent a great way to while away free hours during those pre-spring months. As far as actually heading out to those yearned-for locales, there is nothing like hitting the hiking trail, even if just for a day in a car borrowed from a family member, or splurging on a rental car (even if it means dealing with those not-so-pleasant rental folks), popping the canoe on top and seeing up close just what that guidebook author was trying to say.

The sweet smells of budding leaves and moist soil, the lovely cacophony of spring birdsongs, the sunlight filtering through the just-about-to-develop forest canopy: nothing compares to the first walks of the season. Nothing, that is, except for hearing that gentle dip, swoosh, dip, swoosh of the paddle, tucking in tight to the little bay and watching the loons, inspecting the plants that miraculously survive on that rock island, and feeling the peace wash over me as the canoe bobs and sways in the water.

So I’ve got the earliest seeds out in the beds, the more delicate–but still tough-ish–ones in pots, ready to be brought inside at the slightest threat of frost. The mud on my shoes, something of a memento to be saved for at least a few days, is evidence of my first hike of the season. And I’ve got my first canoe trip ready to go in June, when things in the rest of my life slow down enough to allow for a real outing. It’s all so close to being out of the brain, off the paper and into the world. Whatever thrills spring holds for you, I know you’ll enjoy the fulfillment of those winter dreams and plans–have fun!