Monday, January 13, 2014

“A Vegetable Garden”

            I dug out, added soil, carved out rows, and neatly planted my first vegetable garden the year I turned nine. In my memory, this plot of backyard covered acreage, but I know in reality it couldn’t have eaten up much of the yard. I grew lettuce, green onions, tomatoes, and two varieties of radishes. If I close my eyes, I can see the child I was kneeling on the ground, worshipping Earth.
            When we moved to Texas, my parents delegated a larger garden for my passion. I added peppers, herbs, and even corn to my crops. One year, I planted cucumbers along one section. That summer we ate cucumbers with onions in vinegar, sugar and water. We ate them on sandwiches and within salads. The bumper crop meant we gave them to our neighbors and friends. My mother didn’t want to pickle them (she had extremely limited pantry space), so we made cucumber ointments for our faces. I remember slicing cucumbers into my bathwater!

Flowers instead of veggies!
            Making a living competed with my desire to garden; and as an adult, I shifted to herbs and native plants and flowers. I haven’t grown much more that tomatoes in recent years. And I think a part of me longs to sink my hands into rich soil again.
            In the year since my mother’s death, I’ve toyed with the idea of toiling in a vegetable garden. In my mind, I’ve carved out a huge section of our backyard and planted it to the brim with thriving life. I imagine myself outside each day, watering and weeding. I can actually feel my body kneeling in worship of the harvest. 
            This image seduces me.
            But I’ll prepare no garden this spring. I promised myself a year of doing less, of walking away from the “must do” lists that I create for myself.
            I grow a different garden this year. One that allows me to dip into serendipity instead of structure. I hope to nurture creativity and whim not bound by schedules or lists. In the end, I strive cultivate a gentler “me” who’s not so driven to do more, but instead slows down enough to enjoy more.
            Once I’ve gathered my harvest of contentment? Then I’ll plant a vegetable garden.  
Copyright 2104 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman