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Kip Anderson
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December: Thinking Spring

For Kip, winter is just another chance to look forward — and think back — to spring
by Kip Anderson

We're midway through the tedious process of cutting back the spent stalks in our 100-foot-long perennial border. This year, according to a recent revision in horticultural opinion, we will fertilize the bed as soon as we are finished cleaning up rather than wait until spring, as has been our practice in the past. Our fertilizer of choice is highly water-insoluble and will not leach out during the winter, but will be ready and available in the spring when growth commences again. Any time a task can be moved up on the list and done in the fall, next season's workload becomes that much lighter.

Yes, we're already thinking about the coming spring, while still held loosely in the grip of the previous one, which brought us to where we are today:

for Michael Weishan, a man for all seasons

In the green gush of slivered moments
blown aloft like chaff before
a storm of vernal sunlight,
Faint regrets derived from bygone hope
settle out, elapse, and then
set roots anew, with petals —
Bright wings of sylvan foil — slicing air,
hewing out something certain
where formerly, mere wishes.

Ask a child and you will hear that spring
is when all cycles start, but
ask someone who's seen a score
Or two, the answer then might differ:
the smooth white eggshell curves of
winter drifts hold safe and sound
Gestating dormant forces hidden
underground until the babe
asleep in hay awakens.

Crisp air, crisp leaves underfoot, and dear
old Sol, not quite sullen yet,
casting amber liquid light
On distant grief the way raw honey
palliates the dull plainness
of oatmeal or hominy.
All other seasons are but window
dressing marking time until
returns the autumn brooding.

The noisy hustling drone of summer
is for some the only time
there ever was: no season
Comes before or follows after it,
no one is born or dies, and
the average age is sixteen.
When everyone much younger is than
now, they'll surely come to love
this tropical paradise.

Every season is the center of
and endless back-and-forward-
winding scroll; preferring one
Above the rest is foolish play, for
none is ripened in its time
without the whole ensemble.
Nor does any stand alone against
the neighbors pressing in — four
quarter-turns away, its like.

— C. B. Anderson

Seed and plant catalogs are starting to trickle in, and so the cycle begins anew...

Kip Anderson has been the Victory Garden's head gardener for over 20 years.

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Published August 31, 2007