My shoveling this morning had a particular urgency as I cleared the fresh 5" of snow and sleet that fell last night from the path to the greenhouse and pulled snow off the windows. I wanted the greenhouse (and the 11 barrels full of water inside) to absorb as much sunlight as possible to create a cozy environment for the first seeds of the year.
Now as the moon arcs across the night, there are over 40 flats of onions, scallions, and parsley awakening with water and warmth and preparing to sprout.
Onion seeds are some of my favorite, appearing to me as fragments of dark volcanic rock. When I seed them and read especially the bouncy names of the Italian varieties -- Rosa Lunga di Tropea and the cippolinis, for example (the "c" is a "ch" sound) -- I am transported to a lush volcanic landscape in the Italian countryside. And I may begin to daydream about sautees and sauces at the same time.
From this small rock-hard seed will blossom one of the most beautiful roots: the crystalline onion. For Spanish-speakers, and in honor of Valentine's day, I would direct you to Oda a La Cebolla by Pablo Neruda, or Ode to the Onion. This is my favorite piece of romantic vegetable poetry and it honors the onion for the beautiful sphere it is, an anchor in our kitchens. An English translation (which only does partial justice) can be found in entirety here. A small sample:
petal by petal,
your splendor appeared;
crystal scales multiplied within your essence,
and beneath the secret of the rich earth,
your dewy belly grew round."
Perhaps it is clear why it felt auspicious to sow onions on the full moon!
Our sweet pup helped me to seed by sleeping at my feet. Together we sowed parsley, a seed that is said to go "back and forth to the devil 7 times" before sprouting....it does take a looong time to germinate.
The very essential work to get electric and water to the greenhouse was spearheaded by Sean, who is a budding electrician and plumber.
So, as the snow has settled in around us, rest well knowing that all across Pennsylvania farmers are summoning spring and tending the first of the crops.