Field of Dreams–And the Tools to Tend It

The landscape of the yard is surreal right now. We spent the week building the vegetable garden (and a few other things—including a rabbit hutch and bluebird nesting boxes), and tools and equipment lie everywhere. Despite the disarray—every day we tidy one area and mess up another—it doesn’t feel so much chaotic to me as comforting.

I am captivated by the well-worn handles and the crusted tines of old rakes and hoes and shovels. I’m fascinated with the patterns and textures that rocks and bricks and twisted chicken wire make against the crumbly earth and the cloud- and cedar-studded horizon. When I look around at all this, I associate the tactile pleasures of working with my hands with all the other sensory stimuli of being outside—the warm sun on my face, the blustery breeze tangling my hair, the pleasant tug of my straining muscles. I’m calmed by the rhythm and ritual of it all. And everything seems so much easier this year. Digging the paths, mounding the raised beds, marking the troughs for planting lettuce and radish seeds—the working sequence comes back to me effortlessly.

And there have been far fewer trips to the garden stores this year. Much less new, much more old. Recycled hinges and latches; an old door for the garden gate. Between what we cobbled together for last year’s garden and the leavings of this old farm, we have most of what we need. (And more. We inherited a lot of stuff you might imagine would be strewn about an old farm—things like rusty harrows and old window frames. It’s just too bad that all that remains of a once magnificent barn on the property is the stone foundation.)

Most arresting for me when I look around is the realization of time passing—my own personal time. I look at the odd collection of beat-up garden gloves I’ve amassed—and at the peeling sole of my favorite work boots. In one moment, I can’t believe those boots are already giving out on me; and in the next moment, I realize I bought them four springs ago, when I first stumbled on to the Vineyard—a time when I wasn’t even conscious of the healing power of dirt and lettuce seedlings and baby goats. Huh. Life is funny. I’m still hoping this isn’t all just a mirage.

9 thoughts on “Field of Dreams–And the Tools to Tend It”

  1. Great post, thanks. Here in Central Texas we’re starting to harvest zucchini, the chard and spinach are still producing and, with the current draught, the lettuce is turning bitter. Thought I’d add my favorite gardening tool, the Ho-Mi (Homi) Korean Hand Plow. I have a hand-held and a long pole version. When my friend sent me one 25 years ago it quickly became my best playmate in the dirt and continues to be so.

  2. Great post and I loved the photos. Our plans are to be on West Wing in Vineyard Haven again this year, in August. Hope we’ll be purchasing lots of produce from your farmstand. Meanwhile we’ll be enjoying your progress here.

  3. Hi Margo — Nice to hear from you and glad you like the post and photos. So glad you’ll be returning to the Vineyard. New location for farm stand this year — will keep you posted !

  4. Thanks Katie! Funny I was just thinking about you and your “idjit” garden — I think what we have here is the “idjit” farm — just now I am late to go out and feed the bunny–just was changing water for baby chicks — oh my are they cute (hard to take pics of though I’m trying) — talk to you soon!

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