Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Gardener

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.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." John 15:1


Heather L. said...

Thanks for sharing your garden (in more ways than one) :) ours is looking pretty good finally! but, I'm beginning to come to grips with all the work it might be through the summer. :) Can't wait for all the beauty it will bring though.

Tisha said...

You are more than welcome to come to my house anytime and get your hands dirty!! I am not sure how I do it, but I manage to kill any plant or flower that I come in contact with. So frustrating!!

mom24 said...

Yes, how I would love to garden and grow the food our family needs. I don't have your experience and barely manage a couple of hanging flowers each year. But even so I know it's a wonderful thing to be outside smelling God's dark earth and listening to the sounds of His creation! Someday you wilol be able to get to the veggies as well.

shay said...

I am in the process of starting a garden and I'm out of my depth because its allnew to me.
I loved this post.

Kathy in WA said...

Wow - I loved reading this story! It's been so interesting to me to watch dh become passionate over his tomato plants. Silly, little tomato plants.

Now he's thinking about expanding and having a regular little garden. I'm so excited! I love vegetables and hope I can convince him to grow something in addition to tomatoes. Ha!

I think you are right, a large garden takes a lot of time and commitment. Did your family can quite a bit of it?