Although the ground is frozen, temperatures are dropping and spring is far from our grasp, garden catalogs will soon begin to trickle in through the postal system. After the holiday flurry of activities and long after company goes back home will be the time of year we sit back in our cozy homes with a hot cup of tea to dream and plan what we would like to do in our gardens come spring.

At the Alliance, we look at the Community Garden and although the ground is covered with ice, and there are still reminders of the over-abundance of tomatoes and tomatillos from last fall, I see the hardy kale that continues to brave the weather in one bed, the newly planted arugula and green onions making a courageous start in another and the remnants of last summer’s lettuce that refuses to be taken down by the cold. How wonderful to see the marjoram and the rosemary adding their spicy charisma to the garden. And the sage… the sage will be used to flavor many dishes this winter.

It may not look like much to those who look at it and see the skeletons of the past; the frost blackened vines. But for me, and I know for many of you, we see the hope of creating something more than just a garden. We see a community getting together to make something special. It doesn’t always need to be perfection, as all the plants growing through this cold spell will attest to.  It only needs to be a place where someone can say they grew their first strawberry, or where there is an abundance of tomatoes that anyone can take. It is a place where individuals can plant their specially ordered potatoes, share their zucchini and parsley or be proud of their flowers. Does it really matter that some tomatoes are left on the vine? That the sunflower stalks have given up and lay down for the winter? Not really, they will work their way into the soil to replenish it for the next time.

The garden may not look like much this winter, but most of us had rough beginnings, cold spells, days, or even months and sometimes years of dormancy, where we have given up and lay down, where we have felt that things would never get better, but with time and nurturing, we flourished into who we are today. The experiences that we sometimes suffered through worked their way into our souls and replenished us with wisdom.  I see in the garden what I see in the survivors we work with; I see beyond the cold dormancy and see the potential of how beautiful and strong and growing with abundance and love that all of them , all of us, and our gardens can be.