Friday, April 08, 2005

In The Garden

Wednesday was another ‘premium day’ in Georgia. With a few days of rainy weather on the horizon I decided I’d better get moving on the garden. I have been debating the merits of renting a tiller from the local feed store but have decided that doing it by hand is the way to go for now. Georgia has been ‘growing’ on me a little and with no gym or Bisbee stairs to climb hauling sacks of peat moss and digging lots of soil seems just about as good.

Over the last couple of days I’ve dug four 4’ x 4’ beds. Turning what is essentially wild meadow into smooth raked beds by hand requires a bit of work. Each forkful of soil has to be combed free from the tangle of roots and greenery. Then I dig down another fork depth deeper to loosen it further. The soil in the spot I’ve selected is black and rich; not like the red clay that surrounds most of the property. I picked the place where things seem to be growing best on their own – a fact I may regret later when it comes time to weed.

The combined scent of the torn foliage and the earth is quite intoxicating. I drink it in as I work. I am Bikini-clad, which I suspect is illegal in Georgia, but I still sweat in the lush humidity that vaporizes up from the soil. I pause every now and then to straighten up and when I do I look and listen. I hear the wild turkey off in the distance calling for a mate, the hawk on the wing trying to scare up some lunch and in the background the constant hum of the insects working the field around me.

As I dig I think about the garden my Dad planted in Massachusetts with the help of 'Stubby' his plucky little Sears tractor. My father bought Stubby the year I was born and it traveled from the first house in Southborough to the house in Hanover, then on to New Mexico. His shell still exists in Arizona with other parts scattered between our houses and a storage unit, maybe to be reunited some day. Every year Dad swore his garden was going to be smaller but it always grew to an acre or more in part because I think he just loved working the soil with that little tractor. By the end of the summer the garden was so bountiful we had plenty to share with family and friends. I remember going out with my mother to gather the daily offering, planning meals and watching her cook in her straight forward New England style. Simple food, fresh and wonderful.

When I weary of digging I plant. Two beds of mixed salad greens including Arugula, Tatosi, Endive, Mustard, and several loose leaf lettuces. In the other two peas, green beans and spinach. Not all that much considering what I hope to grow this year but it’s a start. When I look at the tiny seeds I am amazed as I think of the power hidden inside them. A final pat of my hand on the soil and it’s begun. I can’t know what the results will be but I am hopeful……


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