Opinion: What’s the rush?


Talk about rushing the season. Right in the middle of Cyber Monday  – which comes after Black Friday, In The Red Saturday and We Bought One Of Those Last Year Sunday – I received my first seed catalogs of the season.

Seed catalogs. Plural. As in two of them.

I was surprised, to say the least, to find them in among the stack of Christmas catalogs my poor postman has to deliver every day. It’s embarrassing. I get so many catalogs that he’s given up trying to get them into the mailbox. He just wraps a rubber band around them and hires a forklift to set them down on the welcome mat.

Here’s what makes no sense to me: Every one of those catalogs comes to my house because I bought something online. I either get catalogs from the merchants I cyber-patronized or from their pals with whom they share their sucker list. I mean mailing list. (“Psst. This guy in Indianapolis bought the animated dancing Santa from me last year. Didn’t you pick up too many of those snowmen holding the bubble lights? Well, send him a catalog, dude. He’ll buy anything!”)

My point is, I found the sellers online. I looked over their merchandise online. I made the transaction online. Every part of the deal, from inception to conclusion, was electronic. There was no need for a catalog. So naturally, they all send me catalogs now.

Most of them I don’t even look at. If I want to browse for something I go to the Website and look around.

Back to the seed catalogs. Maybe they’re taking their cues from the other merchants, the gift barns and country stores and home décor places, by trying to get a jump on the calendar. The problem with that is they run the risk of getting lost in the holiday shuffle. Who wants to look at 26 examples of cantaloupe seed when the coffee table is stacked up with book after book of shiny, sparkly Christmas goodies?

Maybe they’re hoping people will start thinking of seeds as Christmas presents. In which case they are going to be seriously disappointed to learn there are few, if any, children who will squeal with delight after reaching into a Christmas stocking to find Santa has left a packet of lima beans.

In either case, it just seems wrong somehow … and it takes away from the thing that makes seed catalogs welcome.

When they arrive at their customary time, after Christmas, in the dead of winter, seed catalogs speak to us of the coming spring, and the wonderfully optimistic act of planting a garden. To spend a snowy night with a seed catalog is to dream of a summer afternoon and ripe tomatoes. It stirs the hope that warm days and abundant crops are just around the corner. In other words, it is what keeps us from going out of our minds when it seems like we are going to be stuck in winter forever.

So what to do with these early birds? Put them in the recycling along with the dozens of other catalogs that arrived that day. I’m not even going to look at them. There’s no need. If the seed catalogs really are taking their cues from the Christmas catalogs, I’ll be getting them weekly from now until planting time.


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