Thank you to those of you who read my article last week and for the many kind, supportive comments and likes you sent my way. You are the wind beneath my keyboard.
I confess that while I’ve announced I’m going to start writing again, I don’t actually have a plan or an agenda of WHAT I’ll be writing. I’m just hoping I have enough pride to fuel me to write an article every week now that I’ve gone public with my intention.
As I sit here looking out my den window onto the garden I’ve recently prepared, I’ve decided to write about gardening.
If you had told me before this past year that I would be writing a story on gardening, I would have asked what you are smoking from your garden.
In my life until now, I paid about as much attention to gardening as I did to quilting–another hobby that produces something useful but didn’t intrigue me in the least to learn how it’s done.
Not to mention, I spent my previous twenty years in apartment and condo buildings, so gardening wasn’t even an option. And if you’re thinking, Chris you can still be into gardening with potted plants on a balcony and there are community gardens where people can join to plant…I will stop you right there and refer you to my previous sentence about my whole not intrigued by the gardening thing.
My limited experience with gardening occurred in my youth.
Speaking of, this pic of my dad and I is not in our garden and I have no idea where we were or why I’m armed with a leaf rake instead of a bow rake, but it’s the only pic I could find relating to my youth and gardening.
Anyway, for a few years, my mom made some attempts at the tilled rectangle wrapped in floppy chicken wire that tried in vain to prevent the rodentia that frequented our yard courtesy of the adjacent corn field, pasture, and woods–a tough triangle for protective gardeners.
Other than a few ripe tomatoes to take juicy bites from, the garden’s main yield was lonely, leafy green remnants, fractured stalks and frustration.
Eventually, the garden was abandoned to regular grass turf and a horseshoe pit.
Despite this past experience, I eagerly awaited tearing into and tilling a flat, sun-rich patch in my backyard. Meghan is a whole food enthusiast who imagined growing all her own food and I was giddy to start yard work as a new homeowner and husband and provide her that bounty.
I added the Apple tree on the left and the garden on the right. Lilacs and tulips in the middle courtesy of the former owners. FYI-we planted a ‘salsa’ garden–Four different types of tomato plants, two peppers, two zucchini and one basil. (A heckuva lot of work just to make a tortilla chip taste better.)
I started by staking an 11 x 11 area. Then began unrolling, twisting, and cutting the tightly-wound cylinders of chicken wire–I mulched, dug up and axed unsightly bushes, pruned wandering branches, pulled low and tall weeds, trenched along the porch, dug a hole and planted an apple tree. This work puts you on all fours, twists your back and dirties your hands and clothes.
Generous relatives wedding showered us with gardening utensils, plants, trees, and garden center gift cards.
Several long-married aunts and uncles advised us on how gardening was a great metaphor for marriage. You have to nurture the growth and prune out the bad stuff along the way. Unfortunately, the weeds are always under the surface so don’t get cocky and risk letting them through. Be vigilant in plucking them out when any signs appear.
The greatest plant can be still be ruined and wilt if you don’t regularly water it. And you will often smell bad. (I added the last line, speaking for myself)
Author John R. Whiting wrote: “The home gardener is part scientist, part artist, part philosopher, part ploughman.”
So, I plow on, in writing, in gardening, in marriage, and in parenting with high hopes, little skill and big, green thumbs up.
Even though I’m a novice, I’m encouraged that even the mistakes and the bad stuff that pops up can be turned into compost that can actually help yield fruitful, future harvests. Challenges can make you grow stronger if you’re willing to take them on, learn from them and well, handle a little shit.
“Life’s a garden. Dig it!” –Garden saying