When I was little, gardening was a required activity. Dad spent this time of year discussing strategies with neighbors and plotting out his gardens on graph paper. When the time came to actually get out the shovel, he loudly sang Irish ballads in the back yard. If Dad was singing, the world was a happy place.
After the soil was turned and raked, my sisters and I were lined up for duties. Dad wanted mathematically perfect gardens, so our fingers and arms were measured to guarantee seeds were planted the appropriate depth and distance apart. Taut strings were stretched across the garden to ensure rows were perfect too. Despite Irish ballads, his German relatives must've had an influence on his sense of order.
I didn't care. I liked putting my hands in warm, dry dirt. I liked tucking loose worms back into the soil. I liked having a part in the new life we were inviting into the world. I liked watching things grow. I didn't like rutabagas, but I guess that topic can wait for another day.
Maybe it was an effort to get rid of excess rutabagas? I got the idea that our neighbors were in desperate need of fresh vegetables. I thought they'd be so glad to have it delivered to their door that they'd pay me for it. Dad liked that idea. Maybe he was sick of our bumper crop of rutabagas too? He allowed me to fill my red Radio Flyer wagon every week. I was allowed to keep my profits -- after "taxes". That was his somewhat arbitrary decision that he should get half of the profits to cover expenses for seeds and his labor in tilling in the first place.
To tell the truth, this was a pretty profitable venture. My old ladies loved my visits, fed me cookies, and gave me gossip for the next house. You'd think this would've made me a better gossip, but I didn't master the skill very well. I didn't see the point in telling anybody that Dottie was mad at the Hendershots or that the Taylor girl stayed out too late with her boyfriend. I think I just collected their stories so I could write about them some day. I got a lot of material from lonely old ladies.
I've sold produce as an adult too. I was onto organic gardening before anyone seemed to know what it was. I started selling produce, herbs, and flowers at a local farmers market. At some point I threw up my very tired hands and resigned, but my husband at the time contacted other growers, and we started buying and selling on a larger scale. "We" being a pretty generous term. He liked coming up with ideas, but I was the one who did the actual work.
Even so, I liked going to market every Saturday. It was kind of like having my old ladies back again. No cookies, but I still got the gossip. The patter of voices is a pleasant thing when nothing really comes out of it. People just want to feel connected, and why not connect over vegetables and flowers?
It has finally warmed up in Ohio. It could still snow again, but I saw my first buzzard yesterday and the mourning doves are back. Today I'm going to start some seeds in the window. I saved them from last year's garden, and hope to have a never-ending supply of heirloom tomatoes throughout the summer. For those of you who saw my last post, I'm thinking it's important to see new life when facing a funeral. Despite tears, life goes on. It's important to cultivate simple pleasures.
The art is a card I made for those racks of tourism destinations you can see at hotels and such. No new art today. I want to put my hands in dirt.