Even on the grayest days, we have a cheerful reminder that neither spring nor love ever fails, though sometimes they do take their time.
We have other reminders too — that challenged roots grow deep, tiny shoots are stronger than they look, basil makes everything taste better and grandparent vigilance stands eternal.
All this because we tend, with varying degrees of discipline, an active little indoor garden on the east wall of our family room.
Two weeks into February and we’re still harvesting green and red peppers, owing I’m sure to that plant’s resilience and to the love passed down to all of us from Grandpa Vince and Grandma Mary Jane.
Parents of nine, Grandpa Vince and the Outlaw Mary Jane founded the Green and Red Pepper Club to honor their 13 grandchildren. The club was their way to stay connected across the miles, among the generations and through the years. As club founders, they sent witty letters and “dividend checks” to celebrate Christmas and birthdays.
None of us can see a red or green pepper and not think of those two beautiful people and their legacy of generosity and joy. I believe they’re sending down peppers from heaven, like celestial winks, to remind us not to take life too seriously.
We also, through sheer luck and initially well-placed Miracle Grow, are still enjoying a bumper crop of basil (though I do occasionally see the parent stalks climbing desperately up the family room window in search of some fresh air, a pursuit to which I definitely can relate).
We forget about our basil every now and then, until something brushes up against it and sends that delicious scent through the room.
The other night, as we were making dinner, my young friend said, “What a minute!” and ran out of the kitchen. He returned with a handful of basil. We ripped it up, sprinkled it into our sauce and Voila! an unexpected taste of spring.
It’s a little nippy on the other side of that window pane this morning. The air temperature dipped to 18 degrees and it’s only going to get colder tomorrow.
So, I’m glad we have our reliable little garden and the happy promise it keeps.