Surreptitious Solitude

Have you been collecting all the seed and plant catalogs arriving in the mail? Printing out ideas you come across while surfing the web? And tearing out pages from magazines that display your dream gardens? I have. They all go into a folder where they await temptingly. That is what I like to call my fantasy folder. Typically, I save it till mid to late January just when winter seems to drag on and on.

In this digital age when almost everything I do is on-line, I prefer the actual paper collection of material. I find it easier to lay out the pages or parts thereof to get a full design. Marking ideas or comments aids me in how I create. I like spreading things out to think things through. But if you’d much rather have everything on your gadget of choice, then by all means do so. Whatever works. I myself get too distracted when on the Internet. I find it too easy to get side tracked. Then before I know it, a whole lot of time has gone wasted.

What I’ve discovered is that the catalogs are perfect escapes when one is caught up in the frenetic and stressful pace of December. Even those of us who are more simple in our approach to the holidays, feel the pressure of the season. Baking, cards, gifts, recitals, parties, decorating, year end reviews, tips and bonuses …. the list goes on. Taking a breather is easier said than done.

So I’ve come up with a way to escape mentally even as I’m surrounded by the merry madness. I carry a couple of seed/plant catalog with me. I go through them whenever I have to wait in line or for an appointment, in the train/plane, before a child’s recital or any place I need some quite time. To others I look like I’m shopping for gifts. Very apropos don’t you think?

As I thumb through the pages, I have taken myself to a different season and sometimes to a different place altogether. I imagine perfect gardens. I dream of growing plants that wouldn’t survive where I actually live. I lose myself in fantastical horticultural pursuits. Then, suddenly the lights in the auditorium dim and I’m back in the moment feeling nicely refreshed. And that’s not all. I have actually made a few notes, started a list, ear marked certain pages for more leisurely and realistic planning. Progress has been made. And no one’s the wiser about my unseasonal anti-social behavior.

Time very well spent I’d say.

Enjoy the photographs that bring spring to mind:


Hellebores – harbingers of spring


Early spring plantings in potager

A “garden” chair

Meyer lemons in the greenhouse

(c) Shobha Vanchiswar 2012

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