It’s one of life’s lovely happenstances that in my corner of the world, I put in the vegetable garden on Mother’s Day. Both events honor the urge to create, the desire to coax tender shoots into healthy plants. Both require patience, nurturing, and vigilance. They are a testimony to hope. Unlike produce from a garden, though, children aren’t grown for consumption. If anything, they consume. And consume. But they feed the heart and soul like nothing else on this earth.
“Planting season” are two of my favorite words, if only because they give me license to play in the dirt. From the minute my hands grip the handles of the wheelbarrow I know I’m in for a vigorous workout. While swimming and hiking I occasionally check the clock to mark my progress. I lose all track of time gardening. My body falls into its own rhythm of walk, push, bend, dig, stand, walk, etc. The slow movement of a band of shadow across the garden marks the passage of time.
The senses dominate. The scent of the leaves of a tomato plant, the rich smell of topsoil, the chirping of songbirds to delight the ear, the sight of a pink earthworm wriggling deeper into the earth.
The heavenly taste of the tomato from that aromatic plant that was worth waiting for, anticipation being one of the more pleasurable aspects of gardening.
All is not joy in the garden however. The are battles to be fought—against the weather (too much rain, not enough rain), weeds, critters and bugs. The struggle is real, but on the bright side, it produces a good tale or two (like hunting stories, I suppose).
I still talk about the racoon who, right in front of me, systematically plucked every pepper off my habanero plants. Every. Last. One. And I dared not intervene, not with the stink eye of all stink eyes aimed in my direction. He/She didn’t eat anything else, just the hottest peppers in my garden. I confess to admiration, mystification, and the tiniest sensation of glee that the peppers revisited the rascal in a most vivid fashion.
Gardening lends itself to clever sayings like “Life’s a garden. Dig it.” My favorite, one I cross-stitched on a sampler, is “Bloom where you’re planted.” No matter where you find yourself, either geographically or emotionally, make the best of it. Be the best person you can be right then and there.
And plant an eggplant or two while you’re at it.