On a classic April morning in Northern Michigan this weekend, we awoke to pellets of snow dotting the grass as a reminder that the 80-degree weather two days ago was just a joke. On my way back from town, where I dropped my husband off at the community garden work site, sheets of sudden rain turned to hail. Half an hour later, the sun was shining.
While M. was working at the garden, helping people nail raised beds together, I was manning the Farming For Our Future table at the Children’s Health Fair. I helped kids make “compost critters” while juggling A. on my hip, and also ran into a lot of people I knew, including my labor and delivery nurse, the lactation consultant who helped Aaron and me learn to breastfeed during those crucial early weeks, and a friend from the Bear River Writers’ Conference.
Have you ever purchased seedlings in the spring? I’d like to start seeds early someday, on my own, but I have not tried yet, so I have ended up buying tiny half-grown plants just before Memorial Day. They come in these flimsy black plastic cartons that crinkle like paper if you ball them in your fist. You push from the bottom of the container to release the plant and its clump of dirt and set it in the ground.
You’re supposed to loosen the roots a bit, but it is impossible to actually separate them from the packed soil; the whole square goes in pretty much as is. When we drove past the community garden later in the evening and saw those strong, clean beds waiting for warmer weather, I remembered that we would be leaving Northern Michigan before any kind of harvest. I instantly pictured the seedlings and the futility of trying to separate the roots without breaking them, and felt that trying to leave would be a lot like that.