I was away from my garden for two weeks in July. The days were long and warm. There were a couple of good rains. Things grew and although I know that sort of thing happens I am always surprised at how quickly it happens. I came back to find out that the family left in charge had been “forced” to pick the green beans. They had started pulling beets and onions. There were a few raspberries. And, of course, they had pulled weeds.
A garden is an endless source of things to do and that is one of it’s most valuable characteristics. When I need to get away from frustrations, worries, work I don’t enjoy, I just go to the garden where I lose track of time. Total absorption. It’s kind of like managing a small kingdom. I spend money and time. I plan and lay out my plots and paths. I defend my ground from rabbits, gophers and deer. I look back and quit doing things that didn’t work. I look ahead and plant things that won’t produce for a couple years. And if the work gets too “over the top”, I can decide to pull up some plants and be done with them. I am queen. I am boss. (As a side note, plants do know when you have good feelings for them. They do. )
And a garden is beautiful, even with some weeds. Here is a bit of my August garden for those of you who love growing things. I will also mention that the food I get from my kingdom is delicious. I try not to waste any of it.
This is my first full summer in Wisconsin in 30 some years. It is turning out as I remembered it, short and sweet, full of vividly colored flowers and nesting birds of all sizes. Family dinners outdoors are weekly events. There are gray, rainy days but that only makes it more amazing when the sun comes out and everything is watered and cool and green. Summer is my favorite season (as is spring, fall and winter).
We are no longer out in the trailer in the meadow. It was a tough time in some ways, but I’m going to remember all the amazing moments looking out the window at the real world. As we stayed on, the deer got used to our presence there and got back to their routines of grazing and play. I started recognizing the call of the red tail hawk and knew just where to look for him. The evening fog drifting in, the fireflies, the stillness as the birds stopped singing. Beautiful memories, all.
The garden. I had forgotten the satisfaction of seeing a plot of ground with nothing but stakes and strings turn into row after row of fresh green plants. All the lessons that come with a garden are coming back to mind, how everything has its time to mature and be ready for harvest, how neat edges and straight rows not only create order but are beautiful and functional, how good gardens take regular tending and lots of hours of work. A garden can be a metaphor for life itself – I always find myself thinking of that when I’m pulling weeds.
My least favorite part is “thinning”. I always end up planting small seeds, ones that are hard to see and handle, much too close together. If they germinate well and grow, I know they will have to be thinned out as they get bigger or they will not develop as they should. It’s painful to pull out perfectly good plants. It’s hard to decide which ones to leave and which to pluck. Again, I think of the many applications to life in general. There is wisdom to be learned in a garden.
Time goes so fast! The fun thing I’ve been looking forward
to for months, the hike in the Grand Canyon, is only six days away. I know from
experience that it will only be a short time and I will be looking back on it
and wondering how it could be over already.
While believing (strongly) in living “in the moment”, I also
love to plan ahead, and I enjoy remembering good things from the past. So to
alleviate my disappointment on having one adventure end, I like to have one
always cooking for the future. I’ve picked my next enjoyable, spring activity!
I’m already excited about the summer garden.
I love gardening. Almost everything about it is fun for me.
Even if nothing were to grow (this has never happened) I just enjoy being out
in the dirt, spending time in the sun, watching bugs and birds, loving on my
plants. I know plants are not people and they don’t have feelings (not actually
sure of that, but…). However, they do respond to good, thoughtful care which
makes them seem kind of like people.
And so, I like to think about what plants will be in my
garden, what kind of soil will be prepared for them, how I will keep other
plants (weeds) from competing with them, and all that kind of stuff. I like to
buy seeds and starter plants. I like to watch the garden grow from its early
stage to being full of greenery and fruitful. I like to keep the edges neat. Experimenting is allowed and there is always
something new to try.
This year there will be a new garden location. My brother has
chosen a plot in his yard, close to a water source and has it all worked up.
There were a lot of grass clumps in the topsoil so he is tilling it up every
couple of days to dry them out and hopefully kill the roots. I can already
imagine being out there laying out the rows, mulching, getting dirty.
I’ll enjoy the hike thoroughly and concentrate on it while I’m
there, but thankfully, I am a good multi-tasker and will probably have a thought
or two about the garden while I’m trying to fall asleep, on the hard ground, in
my tent… just sayin’.
The first one for me was in high school, probably it was at the prom. It came in a clear plastic box and was so ornate, almost bizarre looking, that I could hardly believe it was a real flower. It was delicate green with dark burgundy stripes and it lasted for a whole week in the refrigerator before it started to decompose. It was an orchid.
One of the best things about life in Florida is that orchids will grow here, outside, unattended for the most part. Of course, they do better when cared for, but even I with my frequent lapses in attention to my plants, even I can keep orchids alive. April is a very good month for orchids. They bloom and stay beautiful for weeks.
Here are some pictures of my favorites. I get to see them every day, hanging in the pergola outside my dining room window.
I bought this orchid having not seen it in bloom. I waited for a whole year before coming out one morning and seeing this flower stalk – not at all what I expected. Since then, it has bloomed every spring and looks like this
A neighbor has an “orchid wall” and I use it as an example of what they can look like when they are carefully tended.
I don’t do anything to deserve the many pretty pineapple plants (couldn’t resist the alliteration) growing in my yard. They are such a forgiving plant. I started with fresh pineapples from the store, once long ago, and have not bought very many since then. The tops get cut off and if they are laid on the ground where they can touch soil, they will find a way to root themselves and survive. They have a life cycle of about 18 months, so depending on when you plant, you can expect some to be coming ripe every 6 months. Right now I am seeing most of my next batch slightly past the flowering stage. A few are big enough to be ready probably in June or July. I do not water or weed, although I’m sure the harvest would be better if I did.
The taste of homegrown is exceptional – I rarely find pineapple in the stores that tastes as good. As they begin to mature they turn yellow, little by little, and become fragrant. This is when the critters in my yard start to gnaw on them. I haven’t figured out how to protect the plants yet although I’ve tried a lot of things (wrapping them in cloth, putting cages over them, making sleeves out of plastic milk jugs… nothing works). I’m not even sure who the culprits are, but likely squirrels or rats. Because I have so many plants, probably 3 or 4 dozen, I usually get enough for us to eat. But I have to be diligent. Nothing is more disgusting than watching a nice, big pineapple approach picking time and then on the day I go out to pick it, it is half eaten or lying on the ground picked clean.
This is what I’m getting when I eat my pineapples. They are high in vitamin C, and B complex vitamins. They have some vitamin A as well. They have a proteolytic enzyme, bromelain, which is a potent anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting, and anti-cancer substance. They have a large dose of fruit pectin which is a soluble dietary fiber. Round it out with good amounts of minerals – especially copper, manganese and potassium.
I just enjoy having my own mini-plantation of pineapples.
Florida. Spring. Getting warm but the tropical rains haven’t started yet so everything outside gets pretty dry in between showers, in between days when we are allowed to irrigate. The grass (and in my case, the weeds) know it’s growing season though and already mowing needs to be done about every five or six days. Mowing is a dirty, dusty job but I do it because I am a farm girl at heart, and this is as close to the land as I get in my present situation.
I am also a fan of tractors (at length in this post ) and this wonderful machine, which is as close to a tractor as Iget in my present situation is my favorite ride. It almost always starts when I turn the key, it holds enough fuel to mow the oneacrewoods, it turns on a dime with very little effort, the seat is comfy and it has cup holders which I don’t use but they are a nice touch. The zero turn concept is really cool once you get used to it – almost like the way you move your body. I mow a mean swath, not to brag, just a fact.
My last mowing session, however, almost did me in. The air became so thick with leaf dust and dirt that I had to go in the house to clean my eyes out and get some fresh air. I decided to don “the costume” which I usually skip. Masks of all kinds make me feel claustrophobic but this kind of mowing calls for extreme measures. The fact that I can breathe and see outweighs the shame of looking like a panic stricken alien flying around in clouds of dust.
All this to say that if I didn’t love this machine so much I would probably consider hiring someone to do this job for me, like maybe a real alien.
What? Who did this? To those of you reading who are not also bloggers, I will explain. One of the latest updates to WordPress, my blog host, includes a cute little “beep, beep, boop” message wiggling around in the center of a blank screen for a few seconds after certain commands are instituted. It’s a thing to look at while you’re waiting. Evidently someone thought that us bloggers would lose interest and wander off if we didn’t have something new to look at for three seconds while our post is being published. I’d like to meet the originator of this idea and try to figure them out. I’m always amazed at the things people will think to do. Actually, sometimes I’m also amazed at the things people don’t think to do – the old rule, never say never, applies equally to never say always. Both good things to remember.
This last week, every time I sat down at the computer I lost interest and wandered off. One day I didn’t even turn the thing on. But that’s ok. A week of inactivity online doesn’t bother me much and gives me the opportunity to write about what I have been into while I haven’t been writing.
– Equate extra strength Headache Relief, for the headache that doesn’t seem to want to quit. Although I’m probably not doing my stomach any favors, I’m grateful for the four or five hours of relief and super wakefulness that I get from swallowing a couple pills.
– Intraocular injections (shot in the eyeball), for the eye problem that was dramatically improved, in the doctor’s own words. I’m grateful that it’s working and that I don’t have to get another one for five weeks, although I am getting used to everything about them (except the cost…)
– Childcare, for several of my yòoung friends who I realize I’ve been missing. How come you guys can grow up in what seems like no time at all? Gracie, Lydia, Josh, Zeke, Shiloh – grateful for time spent with you that makes me feel younger even while I marvel at you getting older. I’m troubled by the fact that I’ve never played X-box. Is that weird?
– Old letters and old files, for the urge to purge and to organize. Lots of stuff has been burned or shredded, but lots else has been rediscovered and readied for the next project, memoir writing. I’ve always been alarmed by my lack of memory for details of the past. Not only did I forget all those details, but I forgot that I’d written them down in letters to others. This morning, reading letters written to my mother ten years ago, all I could think was “Really, I did that?” and “Did some other person’s life sneak into my letters?” Grateful for the written record of the past.
– Appliance shopping, because the washer and dryer that have wanted to leave my house for years, finally broke free. Grateful that within hours of starting to shop for replacements I came across a used set that is probableyten years younger. After only one session with the furniture dolly, the truck, the hoses, wrenches and plumbing tape, they are installed in my laundry room and functioning almost correctly. The printed message under the temp dial that says “all rinses are cold only” really means they are scalding hot only. I think I know how we can fix that.
– Air travel websites, for the supposed improvement of doing it yourself. Instead of calling a knowledgeable person and telling them when and where I want to travel I can now spend hours online hunting for the best connection at the best price. And American Express Delta Frequent Flyer card, how dare you revoke the companion ticket feature without telling me. Planning my revenge…
– the garden that was, the heat that is, that yard that will be. Grateful for the healing work that takes place in me when I’m outdoors. Grateful for green things, if they’re plants – not, if they’re worms.
– Face time, with friends and family who care. I am realizing that the purpose and value of life is all in the relationships I find and nurture. Realizing also that God is that friend and that family member who makes it all possible. Having less work away from home has given me more time to nurture the relationship with him and I am so grateful for that. Gives me some precious times of discovery, comfort, peace and excitement. Arlette and I took a lovely walk yesterday and talked of all these things.