The end of the spring selling season is a major turning point here, as we shift gears from starting things to sell now into growing things to provide for later. Gardens everywhere are being planted and tended and are full of vibrant potential. We, too, are planting crops which will produce next year’s seeds and cuttings, and thinking about whether and what to offer for sale in the fall.
Now come the challenges of watering, weeding, and watching things grow. We trellis and tie and try to keep ahead of everything. Spring aphids give way to summer grasshoppers, and we all bring our own armies to the battlefront, whether they be cultivated predators, arrays of poison, or traps and mechanical diligence. In our climate we are blessed with scorching dryness that keeps many diseases at bay and makes watering a challenge.
I’m still as enthralled by life springing from the soil as I was forty years ago when helping my mother dig and plant a garden in our backyard. I remember we would go out and eat the peas right off the fence, even long after the heat had withered the plants and the pods had turned starchy. I would sit on the swingset and gnaw on these peas and wonder at the way food just presented itself from the ground this way.
As the summer wore on the cherry tomatoes offered a tempting sidetrack whenever we were outside. My grandmother had plants that bore small yellow tomatoes, and others that bore red, coming as volunteers around the yard, sometimes even among the bushes and flowers. This was truly a miracle: life that offered life again, bearing refreshing fruit with the sole intent that we would help it plant its seeds and grow anew.
And all these years later I am still planting those seeds. Still marveling at the process and the simple essence of it. We labor through the summer to nurture and bring new life to its potential. There is sweat and fatigue, pain and frustration, and often things that we can only learn by failing. But we also harvest the joy along the way, alongside the tomatoes and peppers and zucchini.
I hope there is dirt under your nails and an ache in your back. I hope your nose is full of the scent of grass and vines, soil and water, flowers and fertilizer. I hope that you have gathered others to take along this journey, to teach and be taught by, and to share the richness of living and encouraging life. And I hope that when, weary and worn, you rest and dream of fruits to come, you remember the taste of being in the thick of things, and that it is sweet, indeed.