She loved planting from seed.
She told me once that this is her favorite time of year, spring. When life pushes back against the earth and melting snow, when the air is cleanest, when the birds are happy and the world is in love.
Mom always preferred starting from seed to buying plants. She never stopped being amazed at how these hard, dry, tiny little things could transform into tall creatures with ruffled petals and thorny branches or curly stems with delicate pods of green. Every year, she’d tell me what a miracle it was.
Where most people keep the butter, our fridge was crammed with seeds we’d gathered in the fall or gotten in the mail from faraway cousins. Coreopsis in envelopes, snapdragons in pillboxes, cosmos and zinnias in plastic baggies. We’d pull them out and lay them on the kitchen table next to seed catalogs and graph paper. Then we’d map out our gardens: cucumbers and bells of Ireland, beans and cockscomb, tomatoes and marigolds. When we were tiny, my brother and I would order the penny packet of seeds, full of mysterious kernels that only needed a little coaxing to tell their story.
I learned a lot from Mom and her seeds. Like how some of the ones that sprouted easiest were the hardest to maintain. Or how the littlest ones needed extra attention.
Then there were the hardest seeds. Shiny or textured, impossible to crack with force. But soften them, give them time in a cup of warm water and watch the rough layers flake off and roots start to form. Those were always the prettiest flowers to me, the ones that grew from the hardest seeds. They came the furthest, they proved the most. They were the ones with the most magic of all.