“Is winter over?”

These days I feel hyper attuned to the weather because of climate change. Every snowfall is a wonder. Every unusually rainy day a cause to worry about my garlic bulbs tucked in their soil bed. This year is my first planting garlic and I am hopeful that the right combination of sun and rain and heat at the right times will be there.

It was the winter solstice yesterday, the shortest day of the year. I told my children in the morning and my son asked, “Is winter over?” I had to explain, not yet but we are heading towards spring and a new cycle of life. I read somewhere that for a gardener, the gardening year begins in the winter with the making of plans. I haven’t started thinking about what I want to do this year. One big idea that I have is to turn my front yard into a pollinator garden or a veggie garden or both. But what will the neighbor’s think? goes the voice in my head. The front side of our house gets the best sun and would be perfect for tomatoes and green peppers. This summer, my father in law grew eggplants, zucchini and tomatoes in grow bags in his backyard and every week or so would share veggies from the abundance in his garden. Some people have such a green thumb!

On this shortest of days, I had to take my children for their their vaccine shots. Afterwards we went to the nearby mall to buy some socks and a book each. My daughter chose ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ and my son went for a Paw Patrol story and ‘The Pigeon Needs a Bath’ by Mo Willems. And then of course they were hungry, and we walked over to the food court. My daughter loves sub sandwiches but with only lettuce, cucumbers, and cheese. And my son had a slice of cheese pizza. We bought one bottle of iced tea to share. The sharing was uneven. I thought about how malls are usually busy in the week before Christmas and how quiet it was today. Maybe people were buying less. Maybe people were doing their shopping online. I remembered the way CTV would report from the mall in the final hours before malls were closing and how busy it was. I’m not nostalgic for those scenes. It was the norm and I didn’t question it. I hope people are buying less. Making gifts instead of purchasing things destined for the landfills. At the very least, thinking about how the item was made and what will happen to it eventually.

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