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What Befell my Garden

January 31, 2010

Back in spring I longed to be a farmer. I was hanging around Farm n’ Fleet like a groupie: ogling seed packets, eyeing the baby chicks, drifting dreamily up and down the aisles under a spell cast by malicious fairies.

I wished for a tiny plot no bigger than a grave, and I found it.

I envisioned a mini-Eden, with charming clothes.

I saw myself falling in love with dirt, like everyone talks about.

The fairies kept me enchanted long enough to plant the seeds, and came back in the form of mosquitos, scorching hot sun, rain and weeds. I was no match for nature’s mischief.

Before long, my little strip of Eden resembled a guilty person’s conscience: thorny and thicket-like. In the midst were a few coy turnips, a sprig of bitter gooseberries and half a dozen fast-wilting beets. I hoed, raked, pruned and watered, and, reader, I grew bored.

Outstripping me in pure animal diligence was the hedgehog, who rendered the garden a tragicomic cartoon: zucchini munched down to the stem, green beans swallowed without a trace. I would have bought a ticket to see him at it.  Only the scallions came out well; each was worth a gold bar in terms of prime daylight hours spent bringing it to the table. I traded them for quiche.

I remember the first seeds I planted and the ambitions that went with them. They were so darling and tiny, and held so much hope. Not only would I grow the loveliest vegetables, I would put them away for the winter.  Tidy jars of pickles, green beans and corn would line the shelves in my garage. I would have so much I would give it away to my neighbors.  I would be a hero in my small part of the world.

Back in December, in the cold and dark, I stole in like a thief to pull out the leeks. The turnips, God bless them, could stay as long as they liked. My story was a sweet tangle of personal folly and nature’s pranks, the idea of a garden being the first and winter the last.

Now it’s February: the Farmer’s Almanac, the comely seed packets and the fairies are out again and my mind is working like a gambler’s: this time it’ll be different.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. christina permalink
    January 31, 2010 4:45 pm

    gardening as a metaphor involves less guilt.


    • January 31, 2010 4:54 pm

      That’s what I’m talking about. That’s all I need it for.

      xoxo SW

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