There are grow-lights in my bedroom, a sack of soil in my living room, and a shovel next to my sofa. This week’s newspaper is spread across my kitchen counter, catching crumbs of soil as I make a colossal mess transplanting and dividing tiny seedlings.
Just getting inside my front door means tripping over a pile of garden tools.
It’s not pretty. But it is exciting. I can’t wait to start growing things again this spring, because gardening is stuck in my DNA like a tenacious weed in a sidewalk crack.
I am so much my father’s daughter that it is scary. Yesterday, I looked down at the spading fork in my hands and the craters of dirt all around my feet (and all over me), and I thought instantly of him. I intend to call him (though he will read this first) and tell him that it is all his fault, this passion I have.
As a little girl, I trailed around behind him in his gardens (I wasn’t actually any help), watching him bring to life the drawings he made first with pencil and paper. Brick walkways and courtyards, perennial borders, rose gardens, grass berms. Camellias, dogwoods, Japanese maples, London planetrees, boxwood, peonies, asters, blueberries, beefsteak tomatoes, pole beans, parsley, portulaca, pansies, phlox. Miscanthus Sinensis Gracillimus. Rudbeckia Fulgida “Goldsturm.” I loved the names as much as the plants.
And then there were endless trips to the plant nursery and the hardware store. I wish I had been paying better attention–especially at the hardware store. I stood in one yesterday contemplating a wall of gizmos with which I had no earthly acquaintance, wishing my interpreter was by my side. But my five-year-old and ten-year-old self couldn’t have seen into the future, wouldn’t have known that the gardening gene would lie latent for years only to bust out half way through adulthood with a particularly grueling obsession—growing food. (Or that I might someday also have to tap into the carpentry gene.)
This will be my eighth year with a market garden. While I’m waiting for a tractor to turn over the soil in a new plot for me, I’ve been able to do a little work on a small plot so that I can get some peas and greens going. (Hence the indecision at the hardware store: I am working on fabricating a bunny-proof fence, with my limited carpentry skills.) While working outside, I found some forgotten strawberry seedlings, left behind by another gardener in an area soon to be tilled. I had to save them, of course, so I dug them and and potted them up–like my Dad would. He’s never been afraid to move plants around, and it didn’t feel like home unless a dozen or so potted plants were hanging around on our patio waiting to get in the ground.
One friend asked me if I thought I might get tired of gardening, if the work would get to be too much. I don’t know how to answer that, because it is like asking me if I will ever get tired of cooking. I am hard-wired to grow things and to cook—fortunately. I really am grateful for these compulsions, since I am not good at sitting still for long periods of time, and I don’t like to spend too much time listening to the voices in my head! In other words, getting outside is essential.
Now if it would only stop snowing or raining every five minutes. Dad, can you do something about that?
Sunshine update: I wrote this last night, but today the sun is shining. Check! Also forgot to mention that my impatience really got the better of me at the plant nursery the other day and I wound up buying just a few little seedling starts so I’d have something in a pot on my deck. Instant gratification. Happy.