Years ago I wrote up a life list and one of the things on that list was to grow a vegetable garden. The first year I did this, I grew Christmas beans, tomatoes, spinach, basil, squash and cantaloupe. The spinach failed in the hot Oklahoma sun. The squash succumbed to squash beetles. We harvested enough Christmas beans for us to each have half a cup of cooked beans. Basil did well. Tomatoes did okay. The cantaloupe seeds that we planted came from the inside of a store bought cantaloupe Chris’s mom was eating. She spit out a seed and said “Can we plant these?” I shrugged and replied “I don’t see why not.” Those seeds produced two softball sized cantaloupe that were the sweetest cantaloupes I have ever tasted. It was like they were made of straight up sugar. That summer we cultivated more than a vegetable garden. We grew joy and surprises and sweetness. We grew wonder and amazement. Every thing that sprouted from the dirt was met with astonishment. “Oh my God! Look what we have grown!?!?!” We couldn’t believe it. We could not believe what we had done.
I gave up on the vegetable garden last year. Michael pulled up all of the boxes and a friend from work took them. He set them up in his backyard for his little girls to plant seeds in and I could not be more pleased with this. Our gardening days had run it’s course and no longer cultivated the wonderment and joy as it had in previous years. It is not actually environmentally friendly to grow a garden if you are not all that good at growing things. The money you spend on a not so fruitful vegetable garden in your backyard could be better spent supporting local farmers and so we turned our focus to other projects, other adventures. Occasionally I think about scattering lettuce and kale seeds all around the outside of the house so I don’t have to use the weed eater, but I am considering creating a couple of small potted gardens and building an outdoor space to gather with friends. I once read some great advice for creating an outdoor space on a budget. The designer said to just put down an outside area rug and arrange outdoor furniture on it. That’s simple enough.
Those are ideas for another time, when the weather is a bit more cooperative.
Right now, I am thinking of cultivating a new garden. This garden will not grow kale or squash or beans. Neither will it be an ornamental garden filled with hydrangeas and peonies. This new garden will not be delegated to six boxes out in the backyard either. It will be bigger than that. I want to cultivate a space that grows creativity and peace and contentment. I want to cultivate the joy, surprises and sweetness that first garden brought us but I want to do it without actually planting a seed into dirt. I think this is possible. I believe it is possible to recapture all of those things above but in a different way. There will be a section for photography, a section for words. There will be a corner devoted to my yoga practice and a corner within a corner devoted to meditation. I think I will add in a cooking section and a spot for just laying still with a puppy on my lap.
Wait. I think already have this garden. It just needs some weeding and a little bit of care.