Wednesday, July 5, 2017

“I like gardening – it’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself.”

~ Alice Sebold

I am grieving as I sit on the deck in the stillness of a hot afternoon shelling the last of the peas. Silly, really, but there is a part of me that’s sad the pea harvest is finished.

Three months ago, with great anticipation, I poked dry seeds into the soil while the straw-covered garlic slept nearby in ground that was still frozen. Then I waited.

While I waited, in time, I tucked more seeds into the warming soil until a garden burst forth. When I reached down and plucked the first spinach leaf, popped it in my mouth, and the taste of spring exploded, I watched the pea shoots. When I harvested tender young kale or Swiss chard to lettuce for a salad, I took note of how the peas were doing. When it finally warmed enough to put the squash in the ground, I tucked them in tenderly near the growing peas knowing they would claim the space for themselves in time.

When the pea vines began to flower I rejoiced. I took great delight in the single purple blossom amidst a sea of white ones and wondered why. When finally, pods formed–overnight it seemed–and began to plump up I was thrilled to see it happen because in gardening, as in life, sometimes my faith falters and I worry about the outcome. Oh how sweet the taste of that first tender pea was!

Now they’re finished. We’ve kept a bowl on the counter for snacking, I have a few packages tucked away in the freezer, I’ve given some away, we’ve enjoyed them in salads, and cooked a few to have with supper. The small hard seeds that represented promise in the cold spring have served us well. I’ll pluck  a few dried pods from the vines later this morning to use next spring when the whole thing starts over again, then pull out the vines to make room for the growing squash plants.

It’s all so magical and so beautiful, this gardening practice. There’s so much to learn about the growing of plants and the building of a life that matters. It’s truth in action right before my eyes. It’s the voice of the Creator whispering in my heart. It’s nourishment for my body and my mind with a flavour like none I’ll find elsewhere. It’s food that will feed me in the dark days of winter when the garden itself lies fallow covered with snow.

It’s life and, yes, death.

So as I head out in the coolness of the morning to tend my garden I am aware that I’m doing much more than pulling pea vines or harvesting our supper. I’m tending my life. I’m listening to the still, small voice of God who meets me there.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. This is so beautiful and a wonderful description of my former life in the garden. I couldn’t have written it better. Now I not only grieve my peas, but the whole experience I so loved.

    I also have to admit, it had started to become a burden. We could never amend the soil quite enough. The bindweed (morning glory my foot) took over to the point that one summer we laid black plastic over the entire garden to burn the roots.

    Because I was determined to garden organically, the earwigs became not the helpful pests they can be but an army of marauding youngsters each spring that got so bad it took four carrot plantings to get a crop. No organic method made a dent.

    Besides that the neighbors’ dogs (four of them) began coming to the fence and barking at me constantly. No matter the dog whispering, treats, hosings, or scoldings, those dang dogs harassed me to the point of tears. Owner cared less.

    So your writings are reminding me of those sweet moments, the reason I love to garden. My words remind me that that particular garden is in the past and one day I will garden again–even if only a few raised beds (not a 30 x 30 foot garden with dogs, ear wigs and clay soil). The peas, however, always did do great!

    1. I can’t imagine trying to garden with a pack of dogs barking the whole time. How awful!

      I’m pleased that my post this morning brought back precious garden memories for you (apart from the dogs!), Martha. Seasons change and I join with you in anticipating the day when you will, once again, tend a garden.

  2. Oh Linda! Your post makes me want to start a vegetable garden! I am afraid that all my gardening revolves around flower and shrub beds, planters and baskets. What with working full time, I feel I do not have the time or energy to look after a vegetable garden. Perhaps when I retire…..

    1. Oh you should, Ruth! Yo can grow veggies in pots too. Or tuck some pretty rainbow Swiss chard in your flower bed. It’s soooo satisfying to grow vegetables!

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