It’s hard to believe that it has been a little over 3 years since I moved back to the farm. I was going through my journals from the past few years and it really is amazing to see the progress in my life. It is nothing big and flashy but little victories instead that have brought me to today. I am proud of my progress and want to continue to help others. I guess that my progress is like growing a garden in a way. Little by little changes are made and goals are achieved, or vegetables are harvested.
I hate to admit it, but I had a really nice summer. Sure, I didn’t get to go to any concerts, fairs or family gatherings because of Covid, but I got the opportunity to enjoy a slower pace and really enjoy the life in front of me. Typically, I’m going from one event to another and not appreciating everything that is happening. Life is typically planning for the next event and not enjoying the one right in front of you.
I had a summer that I had only dreamed of. Yes I did work from home, but it was leisurely days. I would wake up and immediately go outside (usually in my pajamas) to the vegetable gardens. It was such a great way to start the day. During my morning routine I also got to see my four baby orange kittens. I realized that a perfect day for me actually happened several times this past summer. How does it get any better than waking up on a beautiful summer day to go to the garden and being greeting by orange kittens bounding towards you? It really doesn’t, well except for having some coffee too.
This is the life I didn’t realize I had signed up for when I moved back to the farm. Days like these are what my soul was missing all those years living in Washington, DC & Indianapolis. Typically, my purpose was to go to work and grind away and then go out with friends at night until late. That way of life didn’t work for me anymore. I realized that I needed more meaning in life outside of work. I didn’t realize that I would find that meaning by slowing down and tending to a garden.
I never thought myself as much of a vegetable gardener. I can buy vegetables at the grocery store for cheaper and it looked like way too much work. My grandparents always had gardens here on the farm and I would occasionally help out, but I never understood the allure of it all. It can be back breaking work and gardens have to be tended to. I’m not known for following through on some things (as can be seen by this blog post), but having a garden requires diligence and follow-through if you want a bountiful harvest.
This was my second year tending to our family vegetable gardens. I can honestly say that I now get the allure. The garden was about the only constant, consistent thing this summer. Covid had wiped out any semblance of normalcy. The garden was always there and I could count on it. On those beautiful summer days, I would get up and walk through the dew covered grass to the garden and thank God for another morning. Then I would curse at the pests that ate some of my plants, but find my happy place again.
I just love the rhythm of the garden. I would check the garden in the morning to see if anything needed to be watered or pruned. Then I would check again at night to pull some weeds and see what else happened. Did much happen in those 8-10 hours? Typically not a lot happened except for a tiny zucchini becoming a monster zucchini and of course weeds popping up that I thought I had just pulled.
With the longer days I was able to be out in the garden well into the evening. Most evenings after eating supper I would head out to the garden to do some work. I can honestly tell you that I have no clue what was on TV this past summer. It didn’t interest me because I had work to do and I loved it.
It really was a family affair. My mom would tend to her beautiful flowers, my dad would tend to the lawn and I would be in the vegetable garden. Several nights found my dad and I cursing at potato bugs. I tried everything under the sun to keep those pests at bay. The thing that worked best was my dad and I hand picking these awful bugs off of the plants, one by one, and throwing them into a bucket of soapy water. With 40 hills of potatoes that is a lot of bugs. In the end I had to break out the big guns if I wanted any crop at all, so I let the Seven insecticide do its business. I’m happy to say that we dug the last of the potatoes this past weekend and we had a really good crop, despite the pesky bugs.
I also started canning the past couple years. When I was young my mom would preserve all sorts of things, but I never really took a liking to it. Again, it looked like too much work for something that I can go and buy in the grocery store. Also, standing in a hot kitchen on a hot day did not sound like fun so I never really learned how to do much canning outside of some freezer jam. This year I planted sixteen tomato plants that had a bumper crop and supplemented them with tomatoes from my uncle’s garden to make some great spaghetti sauce, salsa and vegetable stew. Yes, it is a lot of work to tend to the garden and preserve my own food but it is so rewarding. I can look at that jar of sauce and be proud that I know exactly where the vegetables came from to feed my family. It is very fulfilling and tastes darn good too.
I like gardening because it takes my mind off of everything else in the world. Heaven knows that there were a lot of negative things happening this summer all around the world, but in the garden I could concentrate on the plants and their needs. Did they need more water? Are there pests or fungus attacking the plants? Instead of obsessing about the pandemic or the presidential election I chose to concentrate on these plants and trying to ward off pests. I spent spare time researching bugs and weeds and really enjoyed it. I could focus on the plants and see progress in the garden.
Did everything turn out? Absolutely not. That is the beauty and the frustration of gardening. I experimented with how to keep the potato bugs at bay and finally gave up. I also experimented with a trellis for cucumbers. They were coming along really well and then the cucumber beetle took over and the crop of cucumbers was pretty dismal. I was able to make a couple quarts of pickles, but no bumper crop. Live and learn.
The need to write wasn’t really there over the summer. I have learned that there is no need to force writing and go with what brings you joy at the moment. I’ve grown past the traumatic points of recovering from my assault and it is now well embedded into who I am. I am no longer defined by my assault. My writing will change a bit in the future. I don’t plan to focus on the trauma as much, but on how I’ve found those little victories along the way. I hope that my voice can bring hope to others that are trying to find their way through the dark days of life.
If everyone had some dirt to play with the world would be a calmer, better place. More dirt, less stress.
Enjoy this beautiful song by Joey & Rory, In The Garden