I took down the vegetable stand last fall. It was old, weak, falling in on itself. My father put it up many years ago, shingling it with care. He loved to garden. He was from Aroostook County and always planted three varieties of potatoes. When they were little, my two sons loved to spend a week or two with their grandparents each summer. They would run to the stand when a customer came and rang the tiny bell. They helped with chores and mowed with the riding lawn mower. There was a lake nearby and fishing spots to explore. Those were happy times for all.
I used to garden some myself, but now am content with a few tomato plants. I do understand the pull of nature when one is bent over tending vegetables or plants. It’s a mystical, almost otherworldly spell that takes us back to another time when our forefathers were tied to nature and were part of the bond that binds us to something important: something bigger than ourselves.
I recall a July years ago when I had a rare good round of golf. The drives were straight and the dimpled ball hurried to the cup like it had the eyes of an eagle. Full of myself, I changed clothes and went down to the garden to do some hoeing. Without warning, a sense of peace came over me and my silly golfing pride vanished. I felt the pride of any physical gifts I had drift away as the birds twittered and a fat gray squirrel raced to check out my strawberry plants.
I suppose part of that serenity is brought about by our nature being in unison with life in its purest form. It’s a partnership, really.
Dad loved to tell the story about a farmer who bought an old run-down farm The fields were overgrown with weeds and the house was falling down. The town preacher dropped by to offer a blessing. “May you and God work together to make this the farm of your dreams,” he said.
A few months later, he came to call again and was amazed at what the farmer had accomplished. Everything was repaired and the fields were filled with crops planted in neat rows. “Amazing!” the preacher said, “just look at what you and God have done together!”
“Yes,” said the farmer, “but remember what the farm was like when God was working it alone.”
We, like the gardeners of old, celebrate the planting and harvesting seasons, hardly giving the growing season any notice. But it’s the long weeks we tend our vegetables and flowers that are so important.
We scan the skies for signs of rain and wait anxiously for blossoms and blooms. Hours are spent fussing over our little crops. We are quick to compare our success with others as we mark the passage of time; peas, string beans, tomatoes, corn, and pumpkins are reminders of the passing summer.
We have hours to meditate, pondering obscure, vague thoughts (often on our knees) while the miracle of growth rewards our happy efforts. It’s God’s reminder that we too have the capacity for growth. But we must remember to worship Him and not His creation.
We realize He is working together with us to grow in new ways. Our ability to love, forgive, and to appreciate the miracle of life comes on us suddenly and unexpectedly. He has set the example as we share with Him the joy of life.
Ted Wallace is a retired teacher/radio disc jockey and may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org