I'm a winter person. When the clocks "fall back," darkness comes early, and a chill begins to fill the air, I am truly in my element. Whereas most people look forward to the warm months of summer, I eagerly await what a friend calls the "freezin' season." Granted, in Southern California we very, very rarely experience anything even remotely close to a "freezin' season," but you get the idea -- I prefer the colder months of the year. Lately though, I've been thinking about spring and growing things and hope.

I have a knack for growing things. The fruit in the photo on the left are guavas -- the end of last year's crop from one of two guava trees I started from seeds. When the guavas are in bloom, our house becomes one of the most popular destinations in the neighborhood as people stop by to check the progress of the growth. Ali, the guava fan at our house, enjoys sharing the fruit with family, friends, and neighbors while bragging about how his wife grew the trees from seeds that he got from a friend. We've also got an orange tree that keeps us supplied with oranges for months at a time and delights our senses with the regal display of gorgeous smelling blossoms for a month or so before the fruit comes in. And the grapevine that grows along the fence gives both grapes (the ones in the picture came from last year's crop) and the leaves to make mahshi (stuffed grape leaves -- one of my favorite foods in the entire world!).

Every year I have a small vegetable garden in the yard on one side of our house. I grow beefsteak tomatoes for the sole purpose of picking while green and frying, cherry tomatoes for snacking, and Roma tomatoes for cooking. Vegetables include Japanese eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, and okra (the blossom on this plant is gorgeous, by the way). I've also grown some herbs: thyme, dill, rosemary, oregano, and parsley. Basically, I plant whatever strikes my fancy at the time.

I'm not ready for daylight savings time just yet, nor am I prepared for the soaring temperatures and electric bills associated with running the a/c during a SoCal heatwave. What I am ready for, though, is the hope that comes with spring -- the promise of something new, the excitement of watching life appear from a mound of dirt, and wishes for better days.

Aw, heck, I'm ready for a garden!
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