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SLICE OF LIFE: Dalton Greenhouse serves as a help and a haven

If you didn’t get to go to Florida for spring break and the snowfall earlier this month made you wish you had, you really need to get yourself to a greenhouse.

Within some simple steps, you are transported from 40 degrees to 70-plus degrees. The scents of fresh soil, growing plants, and blooming flowers transport you to a future summer.

Sunshine reflects off the clear greenhouse roof, making you feel as if you stayed long enough, you would get a tan (or a sunburn, depending on your skin type!)

Dalton Greenhouse isn’t really open yet. When I called the owner, Marie Septer, to see if she had any potting soil for sale, she reminded me: “There’s not really much you can plant right now.”

“I know,” I begged. “But I just need some soil.”

She agreed to let me stop over.

I got to take a little trip to a warmer place. Mrs. Septer and I got to talk plants and gardening, and dream about what will be. It was glorious.

I told her about the galvanized washtub and stand my aunt and I salvaged from an Amish junkyard on one of our morel mushroom hunting outings. In March, I finally read a Gardening in Ohio book I’ve had for years, in which I learned that pansies can take quite a bit of cold.

So, I bought some this spring, but my previous attempts to buy potting soil never filled up the tubs enough. She taught me a trick — place empty plastic pots upside down and then fill with soil. Voila! Lighter washtubs and the pansies are at eye level, instead of hidden in the depths.

The pansies were part of my yearly cycle.

January hits. The holidays are over. I hibernate. I overwinter. I sleep more. I want to do less with other people. If I have the energy, I sort through cupboards and reorganize stuff in the house.

And then, as spring starts hinting that it’s coming, around the beginning of March, I shift gears. I start thinking about the summer. I sleep less. I wake up in the middle of the night with gardening and outdoor thoughts and plans. I brainstorm and obsess over planting peas and zinnias.

Should I have another flowerbed over here? Could we move the trampoline and take down the play set? What would be involved in hanging some string lights over here?

What about a pool? I draw up out of scale backyard plans. I talk with my family about ideas and they bring my thoughts back to what is actually practical as they internally (or externally) groan about my spring fever.

All of my creative energy gets funneled into outdoor thoughts. It’s exhausting! However, it seems that my body can handle it because I’ve taken a break.

It reminds me of an experiment my oldest tried in December. We had a large tree that was dying removed from our front yard. It was sad because that was the main tree that gave my kids leaves to jump in the fall, but it was time to go. When it was laying in mounds of stumps and branches, she brought some small sticks inside and put them in water, seeing if they would sprout in the warmth. I hoped it would work—wouldn’t it be neat to have spring blooms in January?

After several weeks, it was obvious that all that was growing was mold. The buds refused to bloom.

But, I pondered, maybe that’s how we are, too. If we don’t have some winters and some down time, perhaps we will never bloom to our full potential, either? I guess there are seasons for a reason.

OK, but seriously, it can be exhilarating to do a quick shift from one season to another.

Once Dalton Greenhouse opens up, go immerse yourself in July. Unless, of course, Mrs. Septer has pity on you, too, and lets you stop over.

Jacqui L. Hershberger is a Sugar Creek Township writer.

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