Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Memories – How Does Your Garden Grow?

last year's leftovers

this year's preparation

Mary Mary’s garden grew with silver bells and cockleshells and pretty maids all in a row.  If you do a search on those three items you’ll find she had a pretty dark and gruesome gardening experience.  But we aren’t Mary and our garden grows with seeds and weeds.

Calvin rototilled the garden this evening.  We’ve had a garden every year but 1988, and that was the year we moved in June.  I’ve learned plenty in the garden.    

1.  I’d gone out to the garden to do a little bit of weeding while Abe, a newborn, was sleeping in his crib and Cali, who was two, was playing quietly with her toys.  The garden was off to the side of the house and was visible from the front door.  I hadn’t been outside for more than ten or fifteen minutes when I saw Cali standing on the front steps with her arms wrapped around Abe’s neck.  Her little back was arched trying to support his weight.  She called out to me, “Mom, Ape, cryin.’ Ape, cryin,’ Mom.”  I panicked when I saw her with Abe dangling out the bottom of her arms.  Ape was no longer crying.  It takes air to cry.  The steps were cement and there were four or five of them leading down to the grass.  Dropping Ape would not have been a pretty sight for any of us.  I told Cali what a good sister she was for taking care of the baby and talked calmly to her until I could get Abe from her arms.  She was obviously pleased with her mothering instinct.  It’s still a mystery how she crawled into his crib, dragged him up and out of it, and got the front door opened with him in her arms without leaving a bruise or scratch on him.  Never underestimate Cali or, for that matter, Abe.

2.  Planting.  Picking.  Weeding.  It doesn’t matter which one we were doing, we played games – usually a spelling, memory, or add-to-the-story game.  It’s not like the kids liked working in the garden, but game playing made it bearable.  A few years ago I sent the kids out to pick strawberries.  (I use the “kids” loosely here since they were all teenagers and some of them were even in college.)  Abe played Uncle Remus and sat on the grass and told jokes and quoted stories like The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear.  The thing that surprised me most was that even though the other three kids kept harping on Abe to help pick, they laughed at his jokes and stories and let him get by as if his words were contribution enough.  Never underestimate a story or a game.

3.  One year we really needed our garden to produce – really needed it to produce.  It was about an acre or so and we shared it with my sister’s family.  We worked in that garden.  We prayed for that garden.  All the seeds came up and then, pow, the beans quit growing.  The plants got a big nodule on the stem under the leaves and they just quit.  They were sickly.  I was discouraged.  One day as I walked by those beans on the way to my sister’s house, I murmured a prayer, “I don’t get it.  We’ve done everything we can to have a good garden.  We’ve worked, we’ve even prayed for it.  Why hasn’t Thou blessed it?”  The answer I got? “You should have seen it if I hadn’t have blessed it.”  Ha.  We'd just moved there and we'd planted in ground that had been sterilized some years before.  However, those beans (though they stayed ugly clear until they froze) went on to produce more than enough for three families – all we could eat, all we could bottle, all we could give away.  Looks aren’t everything; never underestimate the Lord’s hand. 

4.  Most people have lots of pictures of Christmas morning.  We have scads of poor quality prints of us planting the garden:

       Ty as a little boy planting onion bulbs in a blue night shirt
       Ande with a yellow scarf wrapped around her head cutting potatoes, or following along behind Calvin dropping potatoes in the holes
       Ande in her pajamas picking strawberries
       Ty as a teenager with a sparkly girl’s hat on (it still makes him mad every time he sees it)
       Cali with her pants half way down her bottom
       Abe planting bean seeds

One picture we don’t have but I wish we did was one of the years when we had a big, big patch of corn.  Cali loves animals and bugs and when she discovered that some of the corn had caterpillars down inside the corn silk, she walked up and down those rows peeling back hundreds of husks looking for caterpillars.  We were left with a nice collection of caterpillars in a jar, but lots and lots of exposed and under-developed ears of corn that were ruined (except to give to the chickens, pigs, or cows to eat -- animals are great garden recyclers).  Later, after all the stalks had died, the kids built forts in the corn with their cousins.  Smashing down the cornstalks and building those forts kept the kids entertained for days and days, and year after year.  Never underestimate the garden as a playground or science lab. 

4.  I never plant a garden but what I don’t think of LaGrande Richards saying, “A seed is a dime’s profit to one, and a miracle to another.”  I marvel that such a tiny thing as a seed has the power to give like it does.  In our rush-rush world, gardening puts time in perspective.  With cell phones, computers, faxes, and jets, gardening reminds me there are simply some things that can’t be hurried or demanded – like a seed.
              Here are a few old proverbs that I’ve learned are absolutely true in life and gardening:

       It’s okay to be a late bloomer. 
       It’s important to branch out.
       We’ve all got our own rows to hoe.
       Bloom where you are planted.
       You reap what you sow.
       Don’t plant perennial problems. 
       Don’t let your weeds go to seed.
       It takes a pruning to make a good crop.
       Watch out for the little white butterflies (those little white butterflies may look cute flitting from plant to plant, but the minute you see them in your garden you know the broccoli has worms and they aren’t so cute after that.  Same thing in life, some things look pretty darn cute at first but they’re a precursor to trouble ahead.)
              Calvin and I are just run-of-the-mill gardeners, we're just good enough to know that there are definite benefits to gardening.  Besides producing food and giving families a project to work together on, gardening is therapeutic.  Whether it comes from working outside and soaking in the sun or watching a miracle, gardening not only saves on a grocery bill, it is plumb curative to the body and soul.  Never underestimate the power of a garden. 

a couple of gardens ago

remembering what you have to look forward to makes planting much easier


Derek-Jenny-Kaitlynd-Ethan-Dylan said...

I cannot wait to plant a garden. I hope we have time this year. I hope, I hope.

David and Deidra Law said...

David talks about gardening every time we walk through the produce at the grocery store. We can't wait till we live in a house and can plant a garden!

Marie said...

My father-in-law is a really hard working man. He is the town doctor, and is often at the clinic doing paperwork until very late at night, and his next day starts at 5am. He serves others, spends time with his family, and helps around the house. And from April - October he grows his garden. His HUGE garden. Actually, his FOUR Huge gardens. He grows everything: grapes for juice, corn, potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, onions, beans, peas, strawberries for an army....everything!

Just this last Saturday we were out there visiting, and he was happily telling us that the town was going to get another doctor in the spring, and he might be able to cut his hours a bit in a couple of months. I laughed, and said, "But you'll still be working those hours, just out in your garden!"

He answered with a smile and said, "Oh, no. Working in the garden isn't really work. It's what lets me have the strength for the rest of it."

Deidra said...

Amen. Amen. Amen. After not having a garden last year (since we knew we'd have to abandon it right when it was harvest time), I can't wait to dig my fingers in some Indiana clay.

Chris and I have been so blessed from having a garden almost every year. (And I've been blessed from my parents having one, too.) So many of the lessons you've talked about. Thank goodness for praying over meager gardens and the Lord blessing us for our small efforts to be obedient to his prophets' counsel. I loved the article in the Ensign recently on gardening. Okay, I just love gardening! :)

Kathy said...

Thanks for this inspirational post to be read on a dreary, rainy, cloudy day! Your story of Cali and Abe, left me breathless, (literally). Your stories of "stories" was inspirational, every family should be so lucky, (Abe is one smart dude)! I think it is wonderful that you got such a great bean crop and how symbolic of how the Lord lives and loves to bless us. I love the proverbs you have learned from gardening. Actually, I love this post. Seriously this post would make the most awesome inspirational "Garden Book". Print it. Publish it, It is spot on!

Whidget said...

I love those little pear shaped tomatoes! You've inspired me--next summer I'm doing a garden! (I might try for this summer, but with a new baby and a move it might kill me!)

Deanna/Mimi said...

My mouth is watering...I can taste and smell your bounty. It truly is a miracle that the seed has all the makings of the pea, the bean, the squash, the tomato, etc. That the rose comes back every year, the blossoms on the fruit tree. If I were to be given an apple...that is one apple, but if I were to open it up the apple is full of seeds...each one representing an apple tree. That is the potential in all of us to make things better and you certainly do that Jane. You are an outstanding woman and your messages are keenly felt. Hugs.

Barb said...

I copied the gardening proverbs for myself. They are gems.

michelle said...

I just love this.

And it is so very depressing to me that we haven't had a garden since we got our stupid dog, who tears up everything in sight. Except our grapevine. At least we have one thing left! But I do miss our garden. Someday...

Jill said...

Oh Jane how do you do it? This post has so many profundities and stories it could have made a whole bunch of posts! We have never had a garden, and I don't really feel like I've got gardening skills but I so want to have this wisdom and experience and want our kids to learn these lessons, I guess I'd better figure it out.