A Time to Plant (Ecc. 3:2)
April 28, 2010 § 4 Comments
There are three little leafy pale green shoots poking up from a cup of dirt on my desk. They are sunflowers and they’re reaching toward the ceiling, where the fluorescent lighting in my office has been tricking them into believing it is sunlight. They stretch and grow a little more every day and I can’t describe the joy I feel every morning when I come into work and see their tender little heads are taller than the evening before. Man, if this is how I feel about plants, I’m going to end up being one crazy mother.
Honestly, though, I’ve enjoyed gardening since I first started at 15. My uncle Bob gave me two little strawberry plants and I fell in love then and haven’t looked back. My strawberry plants led me into planting flowers, and then tomatoes and green peppers, and maybe some herbs this year. Not a very large or ornate garden, I know, but when you have a multitude of children and teenagers careening around your backyard, you make do with the space you have. My little garden is not much compared to some, but I treat it with the care and tenderness of a true farmer. I even defy my hatred of worms and slugs to attend my garden properly. UGH I hate worms and slugs. UGH ugh ugh. (That is the sentence of someone who just shuddered involuntarily.)
The worst gardening moment I ever had was when I grabbed a weed and there was a slug on it and my finger popped that slug like a bubble on a sheet of bubble wrap and its guts were BRIGHT ORANGE. Orange drippy slug guts on my hand. Oh how it disgusted me. Oh how it repulsed. I cannot even remember it without shuddering. I am not embarrassed to admit I shrieked out loud, jumped up and flung my hand around in the manner of a person having a seizure and also maybe tripping on drugs at a concert and experiencing some electrocution too for good measure. However, anyone who has ever encountered slugs before is absolutely aware of the fact that slugs, they are sticky. And these guts, man, they were sticky too. Sticky, bright orange, and on my hand. Not coming off either, despite the aforementioned electrocution/drugs/seizure dance. (I’ve since patented it under the term Eds dance and have lied about its origin, claiming that I invented it in honor of Edward Cullen.) My vain attempts at shaking the guts off ended swiftly (the Eds dance is short but fun) and I ran faster than Usain Bolt into the house. I scrubbed my hand very hard under hot water, with two different kinds of soap (hand and dish) and a washcloth, and finally felt clean. Oh the horror of those slug guts. I shake. You’ll be proud to know, though, that I promptly returned to my garden and continued weeding. That is how much I love my garden.
Right now all the strawberry plants are blooming, blossoming with little white flowers and arching their leaves up to the sun. Oh, and I will need to transplant these three sunflower plants soon enough. They are outgrowing my little cup and I know sooner or later, they’ll realize fluorescent lighting doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing. Sunlight is one of the reasons I love gardening. Maybe not sunlight in the sweltering, humid days of July and August, when I wipe my brow with my arm and smudge dirt straight across my forehead like a slash of tribal paint; but sunlight in May and early June, when it’s still windy enough that the sun falls across my shoulders like a blanket, settling on my back and warming me. Sunlight that streams down and through the vibrant green leaves, turning them thin and transparent as paper, and keeps the bumblebees buzzing and the grass warm and lush beneath my bare feet. Sunlight so clear and bright it’s like seeing the world through crystal.
Gardening is a riotous, joyful world of the senses. Packed wet dirt on my hands, grimy and delightful, sunlight on my back and neck, scents of peppers and basil sharp in my nose, that first strawberry that I pick and eat right from the plant, bursting with juice and so warm and sweet it’s like candy, the kids cavorting in the backyard, the colony of birds all chattering in the pine tree, just enough wind to push wisps of hair in my eyes and rustle the leaves. And soon enough, those three sunflowers will be there too, nodding their great golden heads in agreement with me. Gardening is a gift from God.