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Sweet Midwinter Dreams


It’s the bleak midwinter. Or is it the weak midblinter? Who knows? I’ve been staring at the ceiling for what seems like days. I roll over to look at the time on my cell phone clock. 2:27 a.m. Oy. Must…shut out…these thoughts…must…sleep.

But sleep is not in the room or on the window sill or even perched on the gutter outside the window, preparing to leap into the room and save the day. Or night. Perhaps my looming birthday is causing me anxiety. It’s not helpful when a news headline proclaims the date on which you celebrate your entry into the world to be the most depressing day of the year. I’m not making that up. And while being on the slippery slope past the age of 40 (okay, OKAY! I’m a little older than that! Give me a break.) doesn’t help, I don’t think that story was aimed at me personally. But you can never tell.

On top of that, visions of the previous gardening year are relentless and unforgiving. What was I thinking when I made that pruning cut? Why, oh, why did I wait until November to transplant that perennial? What the heck was that tomato disease and why is my finger still moldy? Why can’t I unhook the hose from the spigot? Why can’t I find that shovel? Why can’t I find that trowel? Why can’t I find the backyard? I know! Lists! Yes, lists will save me! I’ll just go down the alphabet and I’ll fall asleep well before I get to “Q.” Okay, a category. Need a category. Hmm…how about birds? Birds! Yes, birds! Okay…

A: Albatross, the one around my neck that keeps reminding me of my gardening failures. B: Bob-o-link, species in decline. C: Cardinal, like the one that knocked itself out attacking the mirror in my backyard. D: Dodo, extinct. E: Eagle, we narrowly avoided wiping it off the map. F: Finch…finch…Peter Finch, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Wait. This is not working. Okay. I know. A more benign category. Yes, that’s what I need. I’m a gardener…of sorts. How about plants? Sure, that’ll work. Plants. Here we go. I’ll just pick up where I left off.

G: Ginkgo, like the one I killed a couple of years ago. What? Nobody can kill a ginkgo. They’re practically impervious to disease and pests. But I managed it. No plant is safe in my yard. I could kill a cyclone fence. I could kill a block of concrete. Stop it! Move on, move on! H: Horsetail plant, sometimes known as horsetail fern. Don’t. Ever. Plant. This. Thing. It’s a holdover from prehistoric times, when these plants were the size of telephone poles and could stop a dinosaur in its tracks. Its mission in life is to take control of your garden and render it useless. Stop it, stop it, STOP IT! Keep moving down the alphabet! I: Impatiens. Yes, yes, yes…lovely plants. Ahh. I remember planting impatiens. Okay, when was that? Oh, I remember. Shortly after becoming a master gardener, I worked for a landscaper who left me in front of a house with a thousand impatiens to get in the ground in an afternoon. Just me and a trowel and flats and flats and flats and flats of impatiens. Nasty, gaudy, insipid impatiens! Another letter! J: Japanese honeysuckle. Nope, invasive. Uh, Japanese barberry. Whoops, invasive! Um, Japanese knotweed. Whoa! Invasive, invasive, invasive! Next letter, next letter! K: Kudzu…ahhhhhhh!!

This. Is. Not. Working. I might be awake until 2024. All right, another category. Oh, lordy, what could possibly be a safe subject? Planets? Not plants, but planets. Oh, come on, there are only eight, since they demoted Pluto and destroyed my faith in science. How about diseases? Yikes! No! I can feel my blood pressure increasing as I lie here. Mammals? Oh, sure, I’ll get to B is for bats with white-nose syndrome and burst into tears.

I suppose I could consider automobile makes and models. I mean, I don’t find that very interesting, but I could start with—oh, I don’t know—Acura and…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Mike Nowak is an author, speaker, humorist, environmentalist, show host and entertainer. You can follow his exploits at mikenowak.net

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