Have you ever read a gardening magazine in the middle of the winter? Few things bring as much HOPE as flipping through the bright coloured pages during the season when green seems forever lost.
I can work myself into a profoundly unrealistic state during this dream time. “We should plant an orchard along the perimeter of our rental property! Why don’t we have our walkway lined with purple flowers? I think we could grow grapes. How many grapes does it take to make one bottle of wine? I think we could put a garden in place of this yard. I agree with these urban gardeners! Who needs a yard? Why do people plant trees that don’t bear fruit? This year, I’m going to have all of my lettuce and sweet pea seeds in on the first day of planting season, AND I’m going to grow tomato seedlings in our window so that we are VERY ready!” Some years, I’m out there planting peas and lettuce in the snow. It has happened. And, when my dream beyond dreams does not fully come to, I find that they do just a ten minute walk from our apartment.
‘Ode to the University Gardens! How we so love you.
2103 was my most regrettable gardening season of all. Why? Because we did nothing. Nada. I actually got scared of the weeds that came up to my hips… “There MUST be snakes in there! If I was a snake… I would live in there,” I would think to myself. And in the paralysis of such fear and such lofty expectations, I walked past my old friend the garden
day after day for all of spring, summer, and fall feeling that I had neglected our 6 year standing friendship.
This year, up until June 7th, I realized that I was running the risk of neglecting the 8th year as well.
Sure, spearmint and garlic show up whether we do or not. And for that, I am thankful. See those wee tomato and basil plants that we scored at Whole Foods Market (every plant less than $4) in the bottom left of this photo? They sat in their cups for a week- skeptically staring at the garden that proved that stuff COULD grow in this dirt. And then, finally, at 1 am after we returned home from filming a Saturday night wedding, we decided “no time like the present!”
All of the caffeine and celebratory music has us a little riled up for a few hours after a shoot, and… I’d been slowly pulling weeds (and making LOTS of spearmint tea) during the week. My point is: there’s really never a good time to grow something, so just start.
In other words, it’s just not part of my daily routine. It’s an extra. It’s the dish that doesn’t have it’s own spot in the cupboard of my life.
And, yet, this little 4′ x 8′ x 18″ plot that we dug and filled with compost and soil so many years ago, before we knew about above ground gardening, before we knew about anything… has brought us so much JOY.
And, as I looked through the photos for some examples… I discovered that nighttime gardening was actually something that we had done in the past…
When all of the “to-dos” are crossed off, or at least as many as will be for the day, and peace settles over the busyness of the moving and shaking, I suppose that’s when we stay still long enough to visit with our patch of dirt.
It amazes me… year after year… how something so simple could mean so much.
I’m glad that we came to the conclusion that it’s not too late. We didn’t walk past the little plants on our way into Whole Foods Market. This year we adopted six. I figure, if they’re out front, they’re in season, and… they’ll be much happier in a big pot or our neglected garden then they are in those plastic cups. There’s never going to be a good time. A perfect time. So, we just did something. I hope that this January, the memory will flood us with hope for the coming spring. And… it feels good to walk past our old friend the garden who is looking so very remembered and so very loved.
The Allen Family