Welcome to 2008! It's going to be a good year. Do you know how I can tell? It's the gardening we've been doing.
Every December 4th, on Saint Barbara's* feast day, Provençal families fill a low, flat dish with some cotton balls and a generous sprinkling of seeds. It's the custom to buy the seeds from organizations giving the proceeds to charity, thereby honoring Barbara's fabled dedication to helping the poor. If watered often and given enough sunlight, the seeds sprout into wheat, as seen in the picture at left. And the better your wheat grows, the better luck you'll have in the upcoming year. Sounds quaint and charming, right?
Here's the kicker. The downside to this little tradition is that they say if your wheat doesn't grow, or dies before the new year, a member of your family will also expire before the upcoming year comes to an end. Now call me crazy, but that's a lot of pressure to put on a little horticulture project, isn't it? Forget to water the thing for a couple of days and bye-bye great-uncle Walter.
Well, Mom, Dad, Julie, Dave, Jackson, Mary Lou, Aunt Linda, Uncle John, Cousin Becky, Grandpa... You can all breathe a sigh of relief. As you can see, we have a bumper crop this year. I hope you're not upset with me for risking your lives like this. After all, you know how hopeless I am with plants.
Whether it's over-watering, under-watering, too much sun, too little sun, leaving them outside on the windowsill during a frost or just forgetting they exist, my plants never seem to last long. I once had some pots of basil growing on the windowsill that I found smashed on the ground below one morning. Johann says the wind blew them there, but I know the truth. They saw the way things were headed and they jumped.
But by the grace of some kind of Christmas miracle, this year's wheat is thriving. So until next December, you guys can take it easy. Don't cancel your life insurance policy or anything, just rest assured that I'm doing everything I can over here to keep you healthy. That's all.
* Interested in the shocking and violent tale of Saint Barbara? Click here: Saint Barbara