…all I know is that we must cultivate our garden…
~Voltaire from Candide
This year, once again, we’re late getting our garden in — there have been too many other things happening in our work and home life to even think about getting the garden in. Starting a garden in June is not something I recommend to anyone. It requires bushwhacking to make a suitable bed for the seeds.
Thankfully, my now newly retired husband — normally part-time farmer now full-time — was up to the job.
The weeds, never discouraged by cool rainy weather, have instead been emphatically encouraged. They grow with exuberance, happily seeding themselves, thank you very much. The garden plot had become a veritable forest to contend with before the soil could be prepared for seeding.
My husband set to work on the jungle on hands and knees, digging into the turf of weeds, loosening their grip, pulling them out, shaking off the clinging clumps of dirt from their roots and turning over fresh soil to dry in the sun under a fresh dressing of warm composted manure. Along with creating multiple trenches for our vegetable seeds and starts, we planted prayers that there was still enough time left in the growing season to actually bear a harvest.
I admit there are plenty of times my life feels like our neglected garden plot. If not kept tended, if not exposed to enough warmth and light, if not fertilized with the steaming loam from a well-composted manure pile, if not kept clear of the unwanted weeds that take hold and grow no matter what the weather conditions, there can be no harvest of value whatsoever. I will accomplish nothing other than sustaining self-sowing weeds for the next generation to battle.
I leave behind a life unrecognizable as a source of nurture as it is overrun by weed creep.
Each year we’re determined to do better but we know we’re running out of time and gardening seasons. It isn’t just the resultant sore back and dirty fingernails that serve as reminders of the hard work of tending one’s life like one’s soil. It is that burst of sweetness that comes from eating the first fresh peas, the sharp tang of a radish straight from the ground, the bowl of greens unsullied by chemicals, the onions, potatoes and squash stored away in the root cellar for winter consumption.
Most of all, it is the satisfaction of knowing we accomplished something wonderful with our own hands — guided gently by the ultimate Gardener who won’t allow a few weeds to overrun us.