It’s been a long time since I’ve written. A really long time.
My cubicle finally got the better of me – for the worse or for the better, sometimes I guess you never can tell. But I am done now. I have bid it adieu. The sadness of strangers cannot sustain a soul or build a life of meaning. And so, here I am. It is once again September, and I am once again starting anew.
So. What now.
It is one thing to have faith that life will find a way in the garden; it is quite another thing to have faith that YOUR life will find a way in the world. But then I remember our pumpkin patch last year, how we doubted it, planted more and ended up giving away gorgeous gourds to every baker and jack-o-lantern maker who crossed our path. Maybe my life will be like my pumpkin patch. Unexpected abundance springing forth from some small and fragile thing.
I suppose though, really, that is always the way. What faith we have as gardeners every time we plant a tiny seed, trusting that from that small, insignificant speck, we will find what we need to sustain us. Perhaps the answer to the question “what now” is to start planting some seeds in my life. Not seeds of chains and misery and business-as-usual, but something else. Something new. Something sustained and enduring, something full of joy.
front yard raspberries
Remembrance Day today. A time to remember. The fiance and I took time out today to go to the ceremony on Commercial Drive. Strange to notice how few old boys were there. Like my Pa, many of them have long since passed on and soon there will be none left to tell what they’ve seen. Strangely though, today was different for me because suddenly, at 28 years old, many of my friends and former classmates are now veterans. That fact is discordant with even my own notion of what a veteran looks like – the shaky old fellow back in his old uniform wiping away tears at the service – but now the veterans are the guys I drank beer with in university. Odd and sad in a new way. It was, however, lovely to hear the squeals and laugher of children playing on the nearby playground during the moment of silence. A nice reminder of why all those men and women make the sacrifices that they do.
As I was waiting for my ride to the service I poked about the garden and was shocked to discover heaps and heaps of raspberries on my canes along the neighbour’s fence. They were absolutely heavy with fruit. November 11th!! I couldn’t believe it. And not only my “Fall Gold” were fruiting – three of my six plants had beautiful berries on them. At this time of year you can easily pay 5 dollars or more for a tiny handful at the market, so I felt like a complete glutton, but what a treat! Despite the miserable weather they were sweet and juicy and tender. What bliss.
Tonight we are having family over for dinner of roasted beet and goat cheese salad, roast chicken and potatoes and butter and brown sugar carrots. As I was cleaning the carrots I couldn’t help but think about the first harvest back in the spring. My family was over and I was pulling carrots over beers in the backyard. I pulled out a handful and exclaimed – Look at how straight they are!! Whoo! To which my sister rolled her eyes and made some cheeky remark about the obviousness of my statement. And I said – Spoken like someone who’s never tried to grow carrots!
That’s the great thing about the garden. Here I am, mid-November, pulling and washing carrots from the front yard marveling at the fact that they are actually straight. The garden makes you realize that many of the things we take for granted – like straight carrots or fresh raspberries in November – really are minor miracles.
In the country of Bhutan, they no longer judge the success of their country and society by GDP alone. Now rather than just measuring their country’s production, they are measuring GDH – Gross Domestic HAPPINESS. Yes that’s right. Happiness. You see, they believe that GDP is a means to the end, and have had the courage to ask themselves, as a nation, well then – what is the end, exactly?
The Americans believe in the pursuit of happiness, but I’m not sure how close or far that is from actually finding happiness.
Ok. What on earth does this have with front-yard gardening you say? And you would be right to ask. I think it has a lot to do with it.
The Bhutanese believe that one of the keys to happiness is the quality of our relationships, a sense of belonging, a sense of community and security. Here comes the garden. . .
Sri Lankan fritters
This Monday I came home to an interesting find in my mailbox.
In with the bills and junk mail from Wal-Mart, was a little zip lock bag – full of food! Sri Lankan food!! I couldn’t believe it. I almost cried. My cabbage lady came back, as promised, and left me this gift. Spicy, delicious, homemade food.
Before I’d met her I thought I’d figured out the true consequences of our choice to eat our lawn; community, a shared joyfulness within our neighbourhood, all of that good stuff . . . but it is dawning on me that I still have no idea of the extent of the connections we’ve made with this one simple, albeit unusual, act.
"three sisters" : squash, beans and corn
We had the hottest and driest June on record. And my garden is showing it. The unexpected heat and sun has made my garden go – well – completely bananas.
One thing we have learned this year is to have faith. In the garden, and in life, a little trust that things will work out goes a long way. We doubted that early this spring – suspecting our leggy, jaundice looking squash transplants were destined for the compost heap, we planted more. And there you have it. My sidewalk in the backyard has been nearly engulfed. There will be plenty of pumpkin pie this thanksgiving, we’ll put it that way.
sugar pumpkins, black beauty squash and lemon cukes taking over our sidewalk
We planted way too many tomatoes. Thinking we would have only partial germination we planted 9 of each variety and ended up with over 100 viable seedlings. I didn’t have the heart to throw them away, so what I couldn’t give away, I plunked in the ground. And now slowly I am realizing – hmm – even if I only get one tomato per plant per day during harvest time – that’s 50 tomatoes a day! I am already setting up my own little CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) list in my office building downtown. I’ll be hawking heirloom tomatoes for 5 bucks a pound outside Starbucks come September. Just you wait. Continue reading