Gardening has been woven into the fabric of my life. When I was two my parents moved to the country and built a home. A few years later the garage was converted into an apartment for my grandparents.
Each spring a local farmer would come and till up about a half acre of that land. My dad would gas up the rototiller and start making rows. Cindy and I would follow behind with handfuls of seeds or small plants and milk jugs full of water. The little girls would ride back and forth on the cart pulled by the lawn mower to fill up the jugs at the house.
We planted corn, peas, carrots, beans, squash, cucumber, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, peppers, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, watermelon, cantaloupe... if it could grow in Indiana it was in our garden. When my Grandpa died he had just planted some fruit trees and began a grape arbor. I've often wondered what those trees must be producing today.
Starting in early May, every Saturday involved several hours of garden work until the last potato was dug on Labor Day. There was always work to be done because the garden was always changing. But the fruits of all of those hours was amazing.
Mom would send us out with a big, yellow Tupperware bowl for a salad. We would pick the vegetables right out of the ground and in fifteen minutes they were on the table. Our favorite was choosing strawberries for desert. To this day I've never tasted anything as pure and sweet as those berries. Better yet was the taste of sweet corn and pickled beets in the middle of winter. The garden continued to bless us every month of the year.
Now that I have my own family and home to manage I am astounded at the enormity of this garden. I can not imagine how I could ever fit something of this scale into my life. It worked for us then because we did it as a family. Also, my grandpa took it on as his daily work. Many an early morning we would wake to find Grandpa and Mom out hoeing in the garden as the sun rose. My mom says this is when she talked to God.
Through the years the gardener in me has come to the forefront. I have dreams of growing sustainable food, but for now I'm finding joy in perennial flowers, particularly those native to Indiana. Most of my plants came from my mom and sisters' gardens. A few were moved from our first home. Others I have had since they were just a single plant.
There is something very satisfying in watching the cycle of life. I love opening the front door and seeing the changing landscape. Getting my hands dirty is work that I enjoy. More than that, it gives me a quiet place to pray and ponder. Tending my little flower garden is good for my soul.