Considering the heat wave and drought the western part of our country is experiencing, I can’t complain about all the rain that’s made grass and weeds grow faster than fruit and vegetable bearing plants this year. I will start out by confessing that I wait until a day after a heavy rainfall to go out and even attempt uncovering redeemable vegetation meant to be a source of food. Today was one of those more than perfectly beautiful days, sunny and with a stiff breeze that made remembering the time of day forgettable. An azure blue sky filled with billowing clouds, and acres of soybean fields off in the distance seemed to undulate beneath waves of light and shadow, as an endless parade of clouds were hurried along by the steady push of a blustery northwestern front. Sunflowers danced next to each other, hardly noticing their earthen-floor ballroom was crowded, just happy to be in their element.
My mind was in a retro-song mode, having found one of a few radio stations that would broadcast clearly from the nearby tack room, as I went about trying to give growing plants with promise some breathing room. The melody to “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” somehow became a whimsical theme song with slightly revised lyrics: “Grass grows where my Lady-horse goes, and nobody knows like me”. Anyone worth their Master Gardener’s title could appreciate this truth, if they’d seen us broadcasting horse manure and straw on the raised beds last fall…..or considered that no pre-emergent chemicals had been applied after the ground was tilled and raked in the spring. (Mysteriously, the roll of black plastic, intended as a cover to burn off the weed and grass seed, had gone missing—–stored in the back of the garage, someplace.)
Still, it’s been a glorious kind of day, despite the little stray dog we call “Clyde”, who kept following my every move, insisting that every bit of fresh dirt appearing as I plucked unwanted roughage from the soft ground, was his preferred resting place. Eventually we came to an agreement that he could lay in the tack room under an open window beside a small bowl of water, listening to the radio, with Lady Latte the mare dozing nearby in her blissful state of not knowing how significantly she had contributed to my garden.
Seldom do I regret time spent outside, digging in the dirt trying to make something worthwhile happen—–edible or just visible in the end—–until the next day, when sunburn or over-extended muscles remind me I’m not the invincible “do it all” I used to be. Despite the fact there’s always more to do, being a gardener—-delinquent or not—-is a reminder that attention and care are ongoing necessities for the success of all things living. And there is no greater joy than being part of emergent life with the anticipation of enjoying and sharing the fruit of honest labor.