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March 22, 1995

The University's spring break started last Saturday, so for the first time in several years it's actually coordinated with the beginning of the season itself. The only problem is that the ground's still so wet and cold from the recent rain that I can't get into either of the vegetable gardens to plant any more seeds or seedlings. And the ones I planted at the height of last week's warmth are now cooling their heels under the row covers, as I discovered this morning when I went out to check on things and take a few snapshots for the records. The onion sets haven't yet begun to put up any green tips, the lettuces have grown just a bit, the radishes by Jim's garage are just breaking ground, and the snow peas haven't shown any signs of emerging. For all I know the peas may be on the verge of rotting, so I'm thinking about adding another row cover to heat things up a bit more and possibly bring them on a bit sooner. Ever fretful, ever fretful. And now, in keeping with my fretfulness and the overcast sky, I'm worg about the rains predicted for later this evening. Yet just last week I was worrying about the dryness and the lack of rain. In the world of a compulsive gardener, there's always something to fret about. Maybe that's why Kate was musing yesterday about my fuss over the emergent tomato seedlings. "Sometimes I wonder what goes on inside that head of yours."

Maybe she'd not be so puzzled about the inside of my head if she were a vegetable gardener rather than a perennial gardener. Every spring I have to start my whole garden over from scratch, uncertain of what might happen with every vegetable at every point along the way, whereas she's sitting in the catbird seat, everything in her bed already well established and she just calmly waiting for all her things to emerge, each in its turn. But then again, I wouldn't trade places with her, given all the digging and dividing that has to be done every year in a perennial bed just to prevent overcrowding and to make room for new varieties. Whereas I can easily make wholesale changes in the selection and arrangement of things in my garden without any trouble at all.

Actually, I'm far less troubled about the spring vegetables right now than I am about the spring break. It's not that I have anything against it as such. Who in his right mind could possibly be at odds with a spring break? It's just that I don't really feel as if I'm having one. Because, when all is said and done, I don't think my work load this semester has been so heavy that I need a break from it. Just teaching one course, serving on one committee, directing a couple of theses, and writing these gardening reports. So light a load I sometimes feel as if I've been on a break all along. In fact, I didn't even know when the break was coming this semester, until someone asked me what I planned to be doing this week. Usually I can't wait for it to come, just to catch up with the mail and all my other professional obligations. I suppose that I oughtn't to be worrying about it, since I'm being paid a part-time rather than a full-time salary. And besides, the light load this semester can't begin to compensate for overload of theses and committee assignments and administrative work I carried during the past two years of my phased-in retirement. I guess it's just that I'm having trouble making sense of this transitional season in my life, when I find myself so betwixt and between that I still can't decide whether I should put on another row cover or be happy with the temperatures just as they are.