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Ready for Spring and the Garden

In this month’s installment of These Ozarks Hills, long-time journalist Marideth Sisco shares her thoughts on the economy and the changing of the seasons.

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills.Hard times, and more coming. That's what we're hearing. But that message runs counter to what we here in the Ozarks know, especially coming at this time of year, when any sensible person is looking at seed catalogs, and ice storm debris, and the yard that didn't get mowed last fall. This time of year our usual lament is when we realize that all those plans for a long winter's nap are probably not gonna happen. Out here in my neck of the woods there's plenty for a person to be thinking about without obsessing over a possible Depression. After all, it's almost time for spring to, well, spring. The crocuses know it, popping up everywhere, bursting with promise and good cheer. The other day I completely forgot where I was in the seasons while muttering over the last bit of grim economic news, and almost bit the head off of one. I actually told it to get serious, before I came to my senses. I remember a wise thing I heard once from a woman who said, "How would the world be if we just listened to ourselves? We know all these things, but we don't listen when we say them. For instance," she said, and picked up a container of a popular soft drink from which she'd been sipping. "We describe the act of wising up by saying we've Come to our senses. Now, if I actually came to my Senses, would I be putting this stuff into my system? No. But we get distracted by the struggle to live in this world."Well, I understood what she meant, and I think most people would. There is, after all, that famous Ozarks phrase describing a person in poverty that goes, "He was so poor he couldn't even pay attention."But we also know, deep down, that feast and famine both have their seasons, and it's up to us to know when it's time to change course, batten down the hatches and get ready for whatever's coming. I'd say we're there, wouldn't you?But while the Lords of Power and Money are moving assets offshore, and finding ways to make failure look good, we in the Ozarks have a simpler solution. We grow a garden. And if things look really bad, we grow a bigger one. Because even if we're not going hungry, somebody's gonna be.That was my family's solution to the last Depression, and it worked for them. So do you have a garden? Do you want one? It's time to decide. I know that because the robins have come back. They're early. I saw one just the other day, looking disgusted, standing on a melting ice floe in the middle of the birdbath. Times are tough all over, I told him.And yes, I talk to Robins. And the peepers, who are also popping out early. Just last week they were out croaking their amorous little croaks in the farm pond. And I went out and yelled back, "It's February, you dopes!" That shut them up for all of two seconds, and they were back at it again. What can you do. Spring is trying to spring. Life wants to live, after all. And that's the message the hills are sending this week. All this obsessing is depressing. It's almost time to plant potatoes, and the early peas could go in now, if you want to take a chance on them. Go on. Get your hands dirty. A garden is good for you. Do you know where your garden is? Mine is moving, now that I've recaptured a piece of pasture by moving a fence. I've drawn the plan out so many times I've actually missed several of the gloomy news forecasts. I feel like gardener Ruth Stout, when asked why she didn't take the newspaper."Surely if something dreadful happens, someone will come and tell me," she said, and went back to planting her peas.Certainly I'm not suggesting we stick our heads in the sand and pay no attention to the serious matters facing the nation today. But neither should we dwell on the things we cannot change, and let go the things we can.Head in the clouds and hands in the dirt can give the heart balance. I mean, sure, a garden can feed you, often better than anything you can buy anywhere else. It can be good exercise, a chance to commune with nature, or a relaxing meditation. But most of all, it can restore your faith, something that can be sorely needed in difficult times like these, when many of the institutions and people we've depended on have turned out to be unstable and untrustworthy. My mantra is one I borrowed from that gardener, Ruth Stout, who said, when you plant a bean, it comes up a bean every time. It never, ever comes up a tomato. This is Marideth Sisco, getting ready to plant beans and tomatoes, in these Ozarks Hills.