No spring in my step . . . or my future

Well March is here, it’s 35 below, the snow has been falling for over 12 hours and I now realize that spring will never come. I will be holed up in this house with a pile of worn out seed catalogues for the rest of my life.

Well March is here, it’s 35 below, the snow has been falling for over 12 hours and I now realize that spring will never come. I will be holed up in this house with a pile of worn out seed catalogues for the rest of my life.

We will run out of hay, the horses and sheep will starve and we’ll be forced to eat them all while there’s still a little meat on the bone. Fresh greens, sun ripened tomatoes and new potatoes will become nothing more than a memory to be shared with incredulous grandchildren. We will be forced to boil spruce boughs for tea to escape the ravages of scurvy. Look out your window and tell me you haven’t been thinking the same thing. It’s just too cold, there’s too much snow and too much ice to turn this ship around. I think I know where my sunny outlook comes from.

Last summer was the most productive year I ever had in my garden — which isn’t saying much when you consider the chaos that has been our yard’s norm. I put in a second vegetable plot increasing our potential for self sufficiency by a third. Then I more than doubled the size of my flower and herb garden. For the first time since moving to our sloped property I had a clear vision of what it was I wanted to create.

Instead of winter catching me by surprise, I was uncharacteristically prepared for it. I harvested all the vegetables, removed all the annuals and tucked in all the perennials.

And then I spread a thick layer of hay mulch and a scattering of horse and sheep manure over the whole shebang. I even had a moment where I closed the gate on my vegetable gardens and said good night. That’s how organized I was.

And then . . . and then I started planning next year’s garden. In October. I’m talking grid paper, coloured pencils and everything. In December when I should have been Christmas shopping I was busy looking at next year’s seed catalogues. I broke my own rule of hiding them away until after the New Year.

By the first week of January I was phoning to harass some of my favourite online plant and seed sources to see when they would be updating their website. By February all my seeds had arrived and I was ready to plant my vegetable garden. By March . . . well, it doesn’t take a calendar and a mathematician to figure out I peaked too soon. It gets worse. I had so much time to plan that when I finished mapping out my garden I couldn’t leave it be. I started to change my plans and now everything is so messed up and tangled I’ve practically regressed two seasons. It’s true. I’m in worse shape than I would have been if I had waited until January to start planning.

Who knew it was possible to over plan? Not me.

And since I gave up sugar I can’t even indulge in my favourite comfort foods to get me through the rest of the winter.

Or pretty much any store bought food for that matter. Which makes it all the more necessary to plan my garden carefully.

Did you know there is sugar in ketchup, peanut butter and crackers? Or spaghetti sauces, canned vegetables and soup? Bread, pickles and cereal? And I mean most cereal, not just the obvious ones like Captain Crunch or Froot Loops. Even Special K, Corn Flakes and the granola muesli ones — especially the granola muesli ones — contain sugar. Most have multiple sources sprinkled throughout the ingredient list.

One cereal even lists brown sugar, sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar molasses, barley malt extract, honey and malt syrup on its label! It is possible to find all of the food items I mentioned without sugar but it takes a lot of label reading. I’m at the point where I wouldn’t be surprised to find sugar in my shampoo.

Though at least if it were in my shampoo I wouldn’t be tempted to drink it . . . or would I?

What the world needs is a vegetable that tastes like ice cream and chocolate sauce. Well, what the world really needs is peace, food, clean water, clean air and shelter for all. But in the meantime a vegetable that tastes like ice cream and chocolate sauce couldn’t hurt.

And spring. Spring would be pretty good too.

Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace Country. You can read past columns by visiting www.shannonmckinnon.com