It’s spring! Okay, not on the calendar. And not according to the roller coaster that is the temperature. Not even according to sane people. But gardeners aren’t necessarily sane. The bare root strawberries and seed displays are in the hardware stores! And the Old Farmer’s Almanac says it’s time to start tomato seeds indoors! So, spring, for certain values of spring.

My garden is likely to yield what my husband joyfully refers to as $50 tomatoes. That’s because, by the time I buy potting soil, plants, fertilizer, materials for raised beds, and so on and so forth, what we get from the garden is likely to be really expensive. And that doesn’t include labor. But wait, you say. Don’t you get your horse manure for free? Sure, the manure is free, but we have to pay for stable boarding, the farrier, feed, vet bills, wormer. Need I go on? So, free manure? Sure.

None of that matters. Gardening has nothing to do with sanity. It’s about watching a seemingly dead thing, a seed, come out of the ground and become a full grown plant that bears fruit. It’s about the miracle of life and growth and food coming from dirt. When you go out each day and find a new green bean or wrestle a tomato from the clutches of a squirrel, you have a tiny miracle. Toss it into the freezer, and you have the essence of summertime in the dead of winter. A garden seldom pays for itself, except in joy and awe.

Of course, you knew I’d have to compare writing to gardening, and so I shall. I’ve spent a lot of time and money on classes, conferences, and books learning how to write. There’s very little chance I’ll ever make back these costs from selling what I’ve written. That does not concern me in the least. Most likely, my stories and novels will be the print version of a $50 tomato. So be it.

In the past, I’ve made my addictions pay for themselves. When I sewed more than was healthy, I sold costumes and clothing to support my habit. But not every hobby can be made to pay its way. Some are simply a labor of love. If they pay for themselves, that is a bonus, but not a requirement. And so, I will write, and I will garden, because I choose to embrace the spring and the creative process, no matter the cost, and whatever the calendar says.

Image: Periwinkles, yellow tulips, grape hyacinths. By Marilyn Evans.