By Kimberly Mayer
Special to the Journal
“The Running of the Brides” was a one-day sale of wedding gowns at Filene’s Basement, a tradition at the downtown flagship Boston store from 1947 until the store closed in 2007. Gowns that retailed for thousands of dollars were on sale in the hundreds. Brides-to-be stormed the store with posses of fast running, bartering and trading friends, sisters, and mothers. As at Chicago’s commodities market, bells were rung and whistles were blown to locate each other on the floor. Stepping into and hoisting out of gowns in the aisles, brides-to-be emptied the racks.
Another annual event this time of year is the Oyster Seed Sale at Taylor Shellfish Farms in Bow, Washington. In order to be in line at dawn with other oyster farmers, many from our own bay on San Juan Island, we had to ferry over the day before and spend the night. There we always purchase several bags of Pacific triploids, Pacific diploids, kumamoto, and Olympia oysters seeds. Gone like the gowns, with everyone hurrying home to get their seeds back in the water at low tide.
After months of preparation, The Master Gardener Plant Sale on San Juan Island was nearly over in 35 minutes. As the line had grown outside Mullis Senior Center before the doors opened, it’s almost safe to say one had to be in that line for a bountiful selection of vegetable and herb seedlings this year.
There was just one catch. Because of record cold temps, customers were advised not to plant their purchases outdoors — not before a gradual “hardening off” to get acclimated to the outdoors. Always a good idea with vegetables grown from seedlings under cover, a one-to-two week process exposing them to a few hours of sun per day in a location sheltered from strong sun, winds, hard rain, and cold temps. Bringing them in at night, of course.
We see onions and brassica, the hardiest, going out first. Followed by celery, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, and endive in the vegetable march. Basil, tomatoes, and peppers, most tender of all, with eggplants, melons, and cucumbers preferring nighttime temperatures in the 60s.
We’re still a ways from that this spring. In the daily procession at our home, toting vegetable plants between kitchen and deck, back and forth, in what Gabe Rivera calls “a yearning for the great outdoors,” we are building horticultural armored plating in the seedlings. It’s all good. Any lingering overcast is also less stressful for plants.
These are among the things that disappear this time of year: wedding gowns, oyster seeds, and vegetable and herb starts. Just the beginning, really.