The Library hosted a free class this afternoon. It was about Edible Gardening. I learned so much, but the lesson that most distilled in me was that I DON'T KNOW CRAP ABOUT GARDENING.
I want to garden. I come from a childhood spent making fish-emulsion tea to thrill the lucky roots of asparagus ferns. I aerated compost with a bellows before I was knee high to a rototiller. I was raised to respect earthworms, to transport ladybugs by hand to waiting rose buds, and to honor honeybees. It is so deep within my genes to garden that if you looked in a microscope at a cross section of my DNA, you'd see a well tilled and furrowed double helix.
But I stink at gardening.
I do. I was not blessed with my father's green thumbs.
I grow stupendously healthy weed beds, and have had a thriving compost pile inhabited by both bumble-bees and baby mice, at the same time. In this house, I am weighed down by the sins of a past generation who believed that 8 cubic tons of small river rock would be a fabulous idea. If I had a time machine I would travel back to 1972 and smack those bozos upside the head with my garden-gloved hand. Pop.
So, quite like a little ant, I shuffle the rocks. I move piles of depleted soil from one area to another. I weed. I plant. I water and hope. I try. I get an occasional tomato out of the deal, but in some years I have even failed at growing zucchini. Who does that?!
Today after my class, I set out to the back yard with fresh resolve to look over the terrain and begin anew. I moved more rocks, dug and raked and weeded. I tried. Again. And I will try, and keep trying, because I want to be a gardener one day.
I went to the gardening bench in the play room where baskets of seeds wait well beyond their seasons for planting. They wait until 'someday', hopefully before they are unusable, when I will get them into the ground. And this afternoon, amid the seeds I found a gift, and a new lesson.
Under my bench was a flowerpot that I had placed there at least a year ago, maybe two. It had been covered with old gloves and forgotten. As I lifted off the gloves I was so surprised to see that the pot was full of little brown bulbs, and in their dark, cool hiding place, they had started to grow. Green stems reached hopefully upward. They must have thought (because all bulbs think, you know) that they were under the ground, just pushing up to find the sun. It was lucky I found them so that I could hurry and get them into the ground before they dried out. But I can't pretend I have done them any favor in finding them.
I saw in them a drive to grow and develop that was so strong, that it didn't matter they were not in the ideal place to do so. Somehow, there in the dark, that little spark of life decided that this was it's time. Time to grow.
I truly believe that when we desire to grow, we do, if only in unseen ways. Maybe not in the places we even thought we would or could. In our hidden places, we find green, new growth. Tender shoots, that indeed are vulnerable and fragile, break through, even if we don't know it's happening.
I planted them, the bulbs.
They deserved it after toiling in the dark and dry. Let's hope they didn't notice that my thumbs aren't all that green.