Walked toward the garden I had work to show it then I understood the garden was destroying it and that I should rest and not water the shoots but wait until dark to uncover them--
Olga Broumas From Sappho’s Gymnasium, Copper Canyon Press
We planted a garden this spring. At one point we had to cover the plants and seeds with sheets and buckets due to a late snow. Finally, we were able to complete planting and watched eagerly for seeds to produce sprouts.
Now in the first dog days of summer we water late in the evening, reluctantly pull weeds and continue to watch. What is a summer routine for many people is new to us. We moved frequently while in the military, moved from state to state afterward, and from apartment to house. We have always felt like nomads, as if the ground beneath is shifting. Gardening is a commitment. It says to everyone: we have put down roots. At least for a season.
Rumors of food shortages made us anxious enough to consider self-reliance. We had no idea how much work a simple kitchen garden would be in the dry climate of Denver. We had no idea how much work it would be to keep it all alive: the lettuces, the spinach that the grasshoppers have cut through, the tomatoes and peppers and the red onions.
Every morning (still in our PJs) we walk deep into the yard to check on thechildren. The peas and pole beans are climbing beautifully. A tomatillo perished. The replanted chilies are questionable. Will they shoot out roots or turn a lighter shade of yellow before giving up?
Gardening has taught me patience and endurance laced with frustration. The things I could be doing instead, the cost of water, the fact that Sprouts is just three miles from our front door, all make me question, Why this summer?
The world is in chaos, we are creating new routines or revisiting familiar ground, pretending it is going to be fine next month or the month after. We are working through the trauma of a lockdown, destabilized world economies, ugly rhetoric; the rebuilding shaky. Maybe a garden is our homage to life, to the Earth, to watering barefoot at dusk. I suspect it is more about hope.
Whatever your summer holds, I hope you are growing something exciting. Zinnia, edamame or poem.