On Harvests

The garden didn’t go according to plan this year. The zucchinis came down with a case of gross-but-unidentified-disease and shriveled up. Our large tomatoes split or rotted before they turned red. Half of the cucumbers we bought at a garden center turned out to be gourds. The wildflowers got partially overrun by gi-gundo weeds. The harvest wasn’t as big as I expected and the garden didn’t have that decidedly British organized look I had sketched out way back in May.

But. But we did manage to score a nice harvest of zucchini back in early July. It was kind of nice that they died off before we started getting sick of them. No large tomatoes, but plenty of beautiful, grape-sized ones, bright as the afternoon sun. We didn’t get enough cucumbers to preserve them, but we did make refrigerator pickles and enjoyed piles of them in our salads. And alright, the gourds are kind of cute. And the attack on my wildflowers let me assess my flower ideas for next year, all while enjoying the beautiful flowers that survived. Because there were survivors. And I only noticed just how beautiful each individual one was once I let go of the dream of my perfect patch of flowers. I might have even enjoyed them more this year.

Harvests are tricky. It is easy to equate “good harvest” with “just-like-I-planned-it-harvest.” That doesn’t have to be true.

This year hasn’t looked like I expected it to. Outside of the garden, there have been ups and downs and bumps in the road. I am arriving in this Fall season with a harvest that is, in some ways, less then I expected. Judged by my own plan, my current state feels like it falls short. Until I take a step back and take a look at the big picture. The picture that includes all the joys and the victories and even the, “well, we made it through that one”s. The truth is, this summer held zero professional achievements. It held more visits to the doctor than I would like. But it also includes a thousand wonderful memories with our family. Trips and non-trips, days spent at landmarks and days spent in the yard. Swimming and fishing and book reading. A harvest that is better than anything I drew up in my plans.

It’s hard to let go of the plan. It really is. But it is only when I do that I have the chance to see the harvest for what it is: beautiful.


On Seeds

People who say gardening isn’t a daring thing haven’t tried it. Not in its truest sense. Because growing a garden from seed is a risky endeavor. You can make all the plans, study planting dates, depth levels and watering needs. But nothing is promised in a garden. The power is never truly in your hands.

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Unless you have stared at the soil, wishing it to show green, willing it to produce a stem, you don’t know garden hope. The kind of hope that dreams in emeralds and ferns and jades. Only if you have felt the dirt under your nails, counted the seeds into the ground, fretted over the birds and the squirrels...only then will you know what it is to hope that this thing, this tiny thing, will grow up strong from root to stem to bud.


Oh, and the joy. That feeling when the seed delivers on its maybe-I-will-maybe-I-won’t promise. The joy looks like leaves. Leaves of marigolds, forget-me-nots, poppies, morning glories. Of tomatoes, herbs, peppers, string beans.

It is June. That is the season of leaves. Wildflowers deliver early, and thanks to that fact, I have three (count em) bloomed flowers in my garden. But mostly, it is green everywhere. Nothing to see to the casual observer. That’s okay. I know what is there in all that green. And what will be there in July, when the big show begins. For now, it is enough for me. We have done the daring thing. We have risked that a seed will become something more and it has. What a tiny victory that is. What a miraculous one.