“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.