I am a hopeless pack rat. I bet I still have every piece of macaroni my children fashioned into artwork at nursery school. The plastic pots from my various plant purchases are my worst offense. In fact, I have an area in the garden known as Potland. When I am overwhelmed in some area of my life, I resort to organizing these pots.

Happily, the other day, in a fit of New Year activities, I took an entire truckload to the dump. Now I am free to start another garden year. I cleaned my greenhouse within an inch of its life, took stock of my leftover seeds, and hauled out the catalogues that arrived in enormous numbers before Christmas.

The days are becoming almost imperceptibly longer — in truth, 15 minutes a week. I already notice the difference when I close my hen house at dusk. It is a tiny bit later every day. I know it seems like we are in the worst part of the season, but it is all in the attitude. We are heading into the homestretch.

National Public Radio had a segment on the happiest people on Earth and found that residents of Iceland and Denmark were, in fact, more content than their counterparts in the warmer climes. Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss, was the guest speaker. He thinks the reason that people in the colder regions are happy goes back to the caves. We all get along together in a close-knit fashion or we die. Cold weather promotes human closeness. We figuratively huddle and embrace each other.

One mystery, however, was the apparent misery of the Russians. They did not share the contentment of their western European neighbors. The Swiss are a particularly satisfied lot. Mr. Weiner conceded it was their consumption of chocolate which made their lives worth living. Yea! That’s what I’m talking about!

Another important factor in group happiness is when things work well, ie., when the trains run on time. I am going to pick up a copy of The Geography of Bliss. It really intrigued me since I am anthropologically minded.

Another segment on NPR was an interview with Michael Pollan of The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. He talked about the importance of eating real food, not processed food products. He mentioned the economic factor of the big corporations processing food to make a lot more money. He encouraged the listener to choose the foods that their great-grandmothers would have eaten, to shop on the edges of the market, not the center aisles, and not to buy food with more than five ingredients. He also said to be wary of “health claims” on packages.

Speaking of markets... Down-Island Cronig’s has the nicest stand of inkberries I have seen. They usually are just ghastly, all bare at the bottom. Nice pruning job, Oak Leaf.

Laurie Clements called about starting mango, papaya and avocado from supermarket seed. I personally have only had good luck with avocado. Anyone know?

Luckily, I have some radishes, carrots and lettuce still growing in my greenhouse. I started a batch of fenugreek sprouts. It is becoming harder to find really fresh food in the markets. The lettuce comes from afar and I am really not that interested. I saw an organic red cabbage not much larger than a softball for $10.

Nothing encourages me to grow my own food more than a trip down the produce aisle this time of year. I know I should be grateful that there are so many choices from all over the world, but honestly, the use of petroleum at $100 per barrel to deliver it to us just makes me crazy and self-righteous.

It was so mild last week, I actually pulled a few weeds. I love to be outside regardless of the weather. I will repeat myself: there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.