High Desert Hoofbeats
It’s what we do…

It’s not often that I get tickled by a birth announcement. But when I opened my email not long ago I read about a baby that appeared Feb. 10, having had a very short gestation period but healthy nonetheless. “Toscano Kale was the first seed to germinate here at Canyon Nursery,” its proud mother Alice Drogin wrote. She had planted it in her greenhouse just three days prior, and she noted that the little plant was quickly joined by siblings of cabbage, chard and pac choi. “Babies are doing well. Mom is frazzled,” she reported.

Spring is in the air and on the ground. Signs of rebirth are in my mind and in front of my eyes. The lengthening days let us know that we are over the hump of winter, and the hint of milder seasons sparks creativity that sometimes makes us want to supplement the life forms around us. Like planting seeds and seedlings.

Vegetable seeds, when deposited in warm, moist soil, are some of the fastest life forms to develop. One can plant lettuce and be eating it within weeks. Other things take a lot more patience. Take fruit trees, for example. You can plant them (and now is a pretty good time to do so) but you won’t be eating many peaches, apples or pears for a few years. Planting an orchard is an act of good planning and hope. My dad used to chuckle about one of Moab’s old-timers who, nearing 90 years old, was still planting fruit trees. “That’s optimism!” my dad would hoot.

But making things grow is a habit that is ingrained in folks whose dinner tables, palates, and even perhaps their full hearts, depend on the bounty of the earth. One often goes through the motions of planting seeds and trees without stopping to calculate when he or she might be biting into the sun-warmed apricot that might be plucked from a branch a few years hence. Making things grow just seems like the right thing to do. Especially when local crops are some of the best foods we can eat.

I don’t have much of a garden. But life forms are all around me, mainly horses. Last year at just about this time, a foal was born at our place. Its gestation period was a little more than 11 months. Waiting for him to arrive took a little planning and a lot of patience. But as many of you know, it’s best to not get too anxious about the passing of time when waiting for a baby to be born. One should mentally treat it like a pot on a back burner and let it take its own sweet time without needing much attention. It’s amazing how fast those months can whiz by.

I can’t believe how big my baby horse has gotten in the course of a year, but it will still be a long time before I can train him under saddle. It takes years for horses to mature enough to handle the weight of a rider. As I was making the decision a couple of years ago about the sensibility of breeding the dam, I pondered how long it would be from the time of breeding to the day I could actually ride him. But in life we’re supposed to enjoy the journey as much or more as the destination, right? After all, if people had children just so they could fast-forward to adulthood, that would be just a fraction of the purpose of having kids — or cats, or kale for that matter.

This week I’ve been watching the 1978 television miniseries “Centennial” based on James Michener’s long novel about the development of the American West. Starting in 1795 and winding through the politics and power plays of the 20th century, key players are born, marriages are interwoven, and lots of folks get killed by everything from rattlesnakes to arrows and bullets. Risks abound around every corner. But the survivors struggle on. In one scene, a Native American maiden tells a sorrowful widower that “making things grow is what we do,” as she consoles his broken heart.

It is the season when signs of rebirth are most abundant. The tinge of green grass on soccer fields where our kids play, and the leafy kale, cabbage and chard at a local greenhouse are evidence that making things grow is what we do.

ByBy Sena Taylor Hauer