Winter starts with an act of Congress.
By Michael Leach
How else can a gardener — or anyone else — look at the end of Daylight Savings Time?
One night you sit down to supper in the fading amber glow of late autumn sunlight; the next, it’s a black expanse as vast and forbidding as Siberia.
It’s a mind game. No matter the temperature after time change, winter is as real as any wind chill reading or stinging sleet.
An urge to hibernate grows and reminds us this is the time to gather near the hearth (more likely a furnace register), be still, cover up and rest. For weeks this hibernation-like approach makes for guilt-free indolence of reading and dozing on the sofa after supper. There is rejoicing. We have a reprieve from weeding. It’s too cold for watering.
Hope lives on indoors with potted tropical foliage, herbs and a few clippings of summer favorites. My contained garden, even in a room with large, south-facing windows, is appealing but still fails to satisfy as much as a few minutes working warm garden soil filled with free-range plants.
Gardeners are outsiders. We flag under the gray pall, just as a sun-loving potted plant grows spindly and pale when placed too far from the windowsill. Like the unhappy plant stretching toward the light, we too lean to the window searching for some sign of spring’s return.
Our grounding in the world beyond the glass makes gardening essential. We can almost root into the earth as we till and sow, while our heads remain in the air and sunlight. We are nurtured even as we nurture. Plants literally feed us and give us oxygen, so why wouldn’t they inspire joy when we see them turning green, flowering and breathing life into the stale scene of straw lawns and skeletal trees.
When hope seems lost, Daylight Savings Time returns. What better harbinger of spring than an extra hour of daylight. Instead of hunkering down to dinner in the dark, there’s time to garden after dessert.
Surprisingly, Congress managed to do something at least halfway right.