Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Digging in the dirt

Tonight I did something I haven't done in a long long time.

I planted a garden.

It's a small garden. Just a few herbs. Parsley, two kinds of thyme, tarragon, one tomato plant (an afterthought). I've been saying I wanted to have an herb garden for a long time. I tried planting a few herbs in a pot a few years ago, but they all died when we went on vacation. Every year I say I'm going to plant something. Every year I don't. I look at my huge yard, overgrown peonies, weeds on the south end of the yard, saplings growing by the side of the house, and I sigh. The job seems too big. So I don't do anything. 'It's all or nothing,' I say, 'and I choose nothing.'

This year, again, I told myself that I would do SOMETHING. This time I also told New Friend, who is a fantastic gardener. Really. We went to an open house for her daughter a couple of weeks ago, and she had beautiful flowers everywhere. I think gardening is a spiritual experience for her. She also has some tomatoes on the balcony.

Back in South Dakota, I did a little gardening. Not a lot, and mostly it was vegetables. I had great rhubarb, but I couldn't take credit for that. I just stopped mowing it down. I had a few peas one year, got all excited and planted twice as many the next. The rabbits ate them all. Carrots were my specialty. I loved growing carrots. Some of them looked kind of funny, but they tasted great. In fact, my neice and nephew who were pre-schoolers and didn't eat vegetables willingly, liked to eat "Diane's carrots." "Are these Diane's carrots? Ok, we'll eat them then."

I don't know if my vegetable garden was quite as much the spiritual experience as my friend's garden is. I know I loved having vegetables to eat and to share. I loved to watch them grow. But for some reason, I never did anything with a garden here. I used the excuse: I am too busy. And I am busy. But I think it still might be an excuse.

Anyway, at Eastertime, I said, after Easter I would like some help getting started in gardening. She encouraged me to start small. I said I would call her after Easter, when it wasn't so busy. But I didn't. In my defense, I didn't really seem to be any less busy after Easter.

I had pretty much convinced myself that it was too late to do anything ... just like I do every year. But I had promised to call her, and I finally did. She said, "It's not too late. There is always something you can do." Wise words. And she also said, "start small."

So she came over tonight, and we plotted out just a small area to plant a few herbs, and one tomato plant (an afterthought). I thought it was too late to plant a tomato, but she said it's never too late.

We bought a new big shovel, some peat moss, some compost, and a few plants. We plotted out what would go where. She promised to bring over some oregano on the weekend. I promised to try to find some basil tomorrow. Then she was supposed to leave: she had a bathroom plumbing problem and someone coming to the house. But she just started digging down with the shovel.

I said, "I think you have to go." I felt a little guilty. She was doing some of my hard work for me. She said, "I know. But this is more fun."

This is more fun. I have been thinking about that ever since. Getting all of the sapling roots and the weeds up (some roots were really deep), turning the soil: to me, this was hard work. To her, it was fun. She turned the shovel the first time, and she said, "You have good dirt."

I have a couple of books on gardening, one even on starting an herb garden. I have a book, or books, about a lot of things. I love books, maybe more than life itelf. But the book didn't make me start a garden. My friend, who sees possibilities in dirt, even before the roots are in the ground, made me start a garden.


Barbara B. said...

Hey, that's great! We have a little garden too...I'm not very good at weeding it though. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Impressive. I want to have a garden, but am a bug/pollen magnet. I did some weeding tonight after the humidity subsided a bit, and frankly, it was hell. Little bugs flying into my nose. Weeds making my nose run. Not pretty.
But I'm so happy you are doing this.

RevDrKate said...

I am impressed. Such words of wisdom for things beyond a garden..."It's never too late to begin" and "Start small." Happy growing!

mompriest said...

sigh. yes, I remember the days of gardening. I loved to grow lettuce and brussel sprouts and beans. Like you I have a huge yard. All grass and trees and lots of roots. And I'm busy (hah). maybe next year (LOL).

So, glad you got inspired and started yours. Love the imagery of "never too late" and "start small."

Sally said...

excellent- there is something "real" and creative about a garden!

steve said...

Congratulations on starting your garden. Your story brought up many memories of working on my parent's garden in South Dakota.

Jan said...

The wisdom that poured out of you and your friend in gardening! "It's never too late"--"Start small."

But what spoke to me most was your ending about your love of books (me, too!), but it wasn't the books that got you started gardening; instead, your friend helped you begin. The love of your friend for both you and gardening!

This reminds me of what Emilie Griffin said in her book "Clinging"--that she finally observed that she was reading more about prayer than actually praying.

Both Emilie and you are helping me to see that books are helpful, but our learning and living is through love AND remembering that "it's never too late" and to "start small."

emmapeelDallas said...

I linked here from Jan, and like her, I love the concepts of "it's never too late", and "start small". Wise, wise words...and you have a wonderful blog! I'll be back!