Old people know it and young people will soon learn it. As we age, the apparent passage of time becomes increasingly shorter.

I often ask myself, “How can it be (fill in the month or season) already? But, yet it is. One year seems to quickly merge into the next and the first thing you know, it’s another season and time to tackle new, seasonal chores.

This isn’t a bad thing, though. I rather like it because it illustrates a certain continuity. Take a spring-flowering bulb bed, for instance. It seems like only yesterday I planted several beds of springtime bulbs. But, in fact, it was last fall, and in another six or seven weeks, those bulbs should begin putting up new growth. How time flies; even wintertime.

I view gardening and nature in general as circular, without a set beginning or end, only a continuous stream of planting, flowering, harvesting and planning for the next season.

Shopping for seeds from catalogues stands as a good example of this. I don’t just get my catalogues, select my seeds and send off my order, although that’s not a bad idea, given current shortages of some items. No, instead, I do my shopping in stages, perusing the color photos, checking prices from one catalogue to the other and often, changing my mind about a selection and choosing something entirely different.

Ageing Well

Here’s something else. Consider shrubs. We buy our shrubs from a nursery in spring, plant them and give them all manner of tender, loving care all summer. Even so, they don’t appear to grow terribly fast. We see some new growth on stem ends, but that’s about it.

Then the next season, sometime in midsummer, perhaps, we note our new shrub is a bit larger than when we planted it. And so it goes. Eventually, the shrub matures and reaches a point where, with the exception of occasional pruning to keep it in bounds, it stays the same size and shape in perpetuity. It becomes part of the landscape in a solid way, firmly entrenched among the other plants in the area. Soon, we forget when we planted it, since it seems it has always been there.

The same goes for perennial plants. We put them in the ground and wait for them to mature. In the meantime we find other perennials we can’t do without, buy them, and then search about to find a place to put them. Even though we plant perennials for their long-lived habit, we are always in the market for more. It’s a cycle that we probably couldn’t break if we tried.

Little Things

And then there are the little things. I have a number of seasonal must-does and sometimes it seems that they are all rolled into one. That’s dangerous, because each little activity has its own time and place and often, the time consists of a very short season. For instance, I love to go out in late February or early March and search for snow fleas.

Snow fleas are really springtails, teeny-tiny insects that are able to jump to great heights, at least as corresponding to their size. These interesting creatures tend to concentrate around the base of trees by the thousands. Melting snow draws them along in tiny rivers, crossing walks and driveways, the springtails looking like a black smudge on the water’s surface.

It’s a seasonal spectacle that if you miss it, you must wait for another whole year to observe it again.

Here’s another little thing that means a lot to me: It’s the first time in spring when I eat some garden plant. In most cases, the plant is chives and it isn’t much of a meal, considering that the inch-long chives are clipped close to the ground and sprinkled on a salad. But nonetheless, it’s a garden moment, one that I anticipate with great relish.

I keep a notebook of such events. It’s a little book I wrote for “Just Write Books,” and it is an endless calendar — good for any year. In it, I note such important events as when the first chives emerged —this can be even before the ice melts. I’ve seen them poke their little green heads through solid ice, their slight amount of heat being sufficient to melt the ice, when crocus blooms, and when the first group of migrant robins arrives and when the phoebes return.

It’s things like this, at least the sum total of them, that keep me going and I’m sure if you consider viewing gardening and nature in general, you will feel the same.

Tom Seymour, of Frankfort, is a homeowner, gardener, forager, naturalist, Registered Maine Guide, amateur astronomer, magazine and newspaper columnist, and book author.