The creek valley is once again bathed in muted shades of gray and brown.

Thankfully, it was well below freezing this morning, and the animal chores were not muddy in the least.

It was actually an odd sensation to step on yesterday’s frozen footprints and feel them poking into the soles of my rubber chore boots, but I will gladly take the frozen poking rather than the warm mud any day.

This has been an amazingly soggy year.

I heard of a neighbor’s full grain bins being turned away, the harvested soy or corn too wet or even sprouted, but as I write, the new year is just a few days away, and the holiday season’s big colorful seed catalogs have begun arriving almost daily. They wistfully spread across the top of my desk, and have quite taken over my wishful dreams.

This is the time of year when folks not only look back over the year just past, but forward to the year yet to come, and even though the creek valley skies may be gray and the air blowing across the fields so very cold, this is perhaps one of my favorite times of year.

It is that time of year when the new year always dawns so perfectly on my perfect dreams of a perfect garden.

The past wet weather has taught me to garden in long rows, separated by grass walkways where I can stand, and even on the most muddy days, I can reach forward to weed and harvest my crops.

The past years have taught me that my garden does not need to be as big as my heart’s desire. I have learned that barns should always be built larger than imagined, but gardens should be laid out smaller, so as not to turn one’s garden into a weed-filled jungle or to enslave the gardener as a weeding machine.

So now I sit, wrapped in the warmth of our log home, and peruse the seed catalogs.

Lemon, lime, licorice and sweet basil sound just fine. When I look at the tomatoes, green zebra, pruden’s purple, pink brandywine, and black krim seem quite divine.

Rattlesnake and turtle beans and baby pam and naked bear pumpkins will grow to abandon in my garden this year.

Dill, echinacea, fennel, hyssop, oregano, sage and savory will not just flower, but tower, in my herb bed.

I know that soon it will be time to ready the greenhouse, fill up the float bed, set the seeds in their trays and wait and watch as the plant starts unfurl into the warm greenhouse air, sending their roots deep into the water below.

As I set each seed into its tray, I imagine the life that it holds inside. I stand back and imagine my float bed filled with my own special garden progeny.

And this new year, this coming year just dawning, I imagine that it will be the year of my best garden ever, not too big, not too small, filled to perfection, just barely overflowing, with the most delectable vegetables and herbs that I can imagine.

Yes, I love this time of year. It is perhaps the only time of year when I have the most perfect garden, ever.

I can hardly wait!

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio. Visit them at