Garden Season

I have a habit of planting flowers without gloves on. I love the feel of the dirt and the earth between my fingers. It’s grounding. I am getting older… and so are my hands. Between washing them a dozen times a day at work and washing dishes pretty much constantly, they are starting to look their age. So when I can remind myself to do so, I now mostly wear gloves when I dig into my soil.

In my other life. The one where I was a married stay-at-home mother with four young children, I had a vegetable garden. It was a glorious garden. We had nearly an acre of land, and a good chunk of it was designated to planting vegetables. Tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, corn, potatoes. You name it, we had it. We had bees. We had laying hens. But our garden was the thing to write home about. It was the envy of the entire neighborhood. Shelby would rototill it every spring. He would make even rows and plan where everything would go. I used to tease him about his need for exactness in a garden that would become chaos in just a few short weeks. We planted the garden together. Shelby made sure it was watered. I was the harvester. Tomatoes were our biggest crop. On any given season we had at least 40 tomato plants. That makes for a whole lot of tomatoes. I don’t think there was ever a season in which I got to all of them. I made endless jars of salsa, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce. Along with pickles, pickled beets, canned peaches from our peach trees. And jam. The best jam. It was so much work. And so many good memories. I am not convinced it saved us any money. But for quality of life it was pretty great.

Our huge bit of land needed to be watered manually, as we had no sprinkler system. When my marriage crumbled, and my husband finally moved out for good, the upkeep of the house and the yard was all on me. At least until we were able to sell the house. And it was hard. So hard. Being thrust into the working world, and taking care of four small children (who I had all the time back then) was hard on its own. The yard work suffered. There was no garden. There was barely a lawn. I truly resented the whole affair.

When we finally did sell the house and I was able to buy my own, I had very little criteria. It needed to be big enough to fit my kids and me. And it needed to be easy. No serious maintenance, no crumbling interior. No extensive yard work.

When my realtor (and my cousin) found a house that fit my criteria in suburban Meridian, I was hesitant. It was a generic house in a generic neighborhood, in a town I did not want to live in. It was big enough, but barely. And it was colorless.. The yard was boring. The exterior was bland. I need the color. I AM the color. But the second I walked into the house, I knew it was the house for me. It was built in 2005, so it wasn’t exactly new. But it was well maintained. And it was easy. It felt right.

We moved in during the spring of 2019. The yard was generic and unimpressive. It was fine. It needed nothing from me. My kids and I spent an entire year settling and recovering. I did nothing to improve our very functional yard or the home we lived in. We just survived.

In 2020, Covid hit, and it hit hard. I had some extra money from the sell of our other house, and had it bookmarked to take a trip to Spain with some friends. In the midst of the planning for this trip, everything shut down. The Spain trip was off. So I used my Spain money on the yard. I got in my groove. I took out the generic landscaping and threw in all the flowers I could get my hands on. I moved hundreds of pounds of rock into my gravel pit. I planted sod. I bought patio furniture. I made my yard my own. I love it. My yard is my pride and joy.

Up until now, I have focused on my flowers. And my grass. The idea of starting a vegetable garden has felt overwhelming. There was no natural space for it. And I am a little tired of the whole harvesting affair.

Hey have you all met Lilly? The kindest, most empathetic 15-year-old on the planet? The one who wants to save the earth from utter destruction? I have recently had to invest in a whole lot of reusable grocery bags. She also wants me to get reusable ziplock bags, she wants me to recycle, she insists we have a compost pile. And she wants to grow her own food.

In honor of Lilly, I have spent the last week prepping a vegetable garden out of our previous gravel pit. It has been expensive and hard. But I love it so much. It has brought me right back to my young mom days. I wear gloves for much of my yard work but when it comes to planting, I go back to bare hands. I want to touch and I want to feel. It is almost sensual.

Back in the day my favorite meal of all time was new potatoes from the garden, fresh zucchini, and two fried eggs from the laying hens we raised. Those days are gone, and I doubt the will ever come back fully. But I will try for a slice of it.

We have been surviving for the last four years on frozen food and generic Mac and Cheese. It’s all I could muster for a bit. This summer, we will have peas and potatoes, beets and zucchini and cucumbers. And all the tomatoes my kids can eat. I have the time for it now. The mental space. I doubt I will be doing much canning. We are just getting started after all. But it feels great to get back to business. Back to the dirt.

2 responses to “Garden Season”

  1. You have many amazing qualities, but the thing I admire most about you is your hands. They might show the sign of age and maybe they are not perfectly manicured. They show who you truly are. They show that you are a hard working person. They tell a story about you caring for your family with rough and fine lines. They show that you are brave and not afraid to work through hard times. It might sound funny, but to me your hands show the most genuine, authentic, and raw qualities that make you an amazing human.

    Liked by 1 person

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