January is a suspended month. The poets describe the month as forlorn, though Hal Borland quips that “there are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter. One is the January thaw. The other is the seed catalogues.”
This year we’re actually, oddly, waiting for winter, which seems reluctant to even start. The shrubs, also waiting, are confused and have started to bud. I’m waiting for my amaryllis to bloom, timed, for once, to properly bloom on my birthday next week, which is what I was shooting for. I planted winter greens this year, two types of arugula, and I wait for them to sprout and grow, wandering casually past the seed station several times a day to see if maybe they’ve gotten tired of waiting and have decided, instead, to suddenly be mature and ready to eat. I planted basil too, and found a new marker to wait for–there’s a point at which they start to smell like basil.
When I was a young mother I used to wait for my children to sleep so I could get, something? done. I can’t remember anymore what that was I was trying to do. While I was waiting, they went and grew up. We wait each day for the sun to hang around a little longer, as “imperceptible as the growth of a child.” I count the days until I can pull out the seed starting mix and plant the early crops, and then the tomatoes. But I won’t be satisfied after I’ve gotten there and done that; I’ll just start waiting again, to be able to take them outside and harden them off, and then to plant, and then to grow until the cycle comes around another time, with me, still waiting.
Gardeners and cooks spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for the spring, for the sprout, for the fruit, for the harvest. Waiting for the bread to rise and the milk to scald, and the foam to settle. Waiting, even for the dishes to be washed or the table set.
I would have included a photo with this post, but I’m waiting for the camera to recharge.
As I write this, I’m waiting for a cake to bake. Getting impatient, I whipped the left over egg whites for meringue cookies, not thinking that they would need to sit for an hour, and then another hour while the oven cooled down. In the meantime, they slumped, and then separated, and I had to throw them out. I guess I should have waited.
What are you waiting for?