Not this time.
Let me back up. I was not in some small garden plucking away at few spent flowers and pulling wayward weeds. Nope. I was in my parents’ vegetable garden in the country. One that to a city-dweller (which I am), is bigger than most community garden projects that are shared by multiple families.
Now normally I do not weigh in on their rather zealous veggie gardening plans. By the time we make the 8 hour trek to visit, the veggie patch has magically spit up its bounty: washed, bagged and ready to go (and we are one of the recipients of their excess).
Not this time.
I was home last week, just before the first frost. Dad was away and the garden needed to be dealt with. How hard could it be? Pitchfork. Burning pile. Wheel barrow. Trays. Carrot washing station (my Dad is quite inventive). Why not surprise Dad and do the whole garden?
It started easy enough. Pull up the yellowing corn stalks (why do the roots need to be so deep?) and haul them to the burning pile. Pick and sort tomatoes. Pull off the remaining zucchini, cucumber and peppers, haul them to the garage, load up the wheelbarrow and head to the burning pile (why is the burning pile so far away again?)
Not sounding too hard yet, I know.
Did I mention the weeds? A more experienced farmer would know that a tractor could take care of them later. Only a mini-gardener (like me) would look at the weeds and say, “They won’t spread as much if I dig them out by their roots…and it doesn’t look like there are too many of them” (as I look at them from a distance, with my 47 year-old, less than 20-20 vision).
Four hours later, I am an optimistic one-third through the garden. Cramming my knuckles into my lower back so I can stand, I hobble inside. A few yoga stretches, an ice pack and I’ll be able to finish it tomorrow, I tell myself.
After raiding the medicine cabinet the night before (thank you muscle relaxants!), I awaken to a cold, foggy day. A few yoga stretches later (can they be called yoga poses if you can’t actually touch the ground?), I struggle up the stairs to attack the rest of the garden.
Given how long the weeding took the day before, a normal person would probably start with the carrots and the potatoes, just in case that took a wee bit longer than they expected. Only someone with cramped-muscles-cutting-off-blood-circulation-to-their-brain, would start with the weeds.
Four hours later, I am finally digging up the carrots. An hour later, I am still at the carrot washing station. As my numb hands lose their grip on a carrot, I am momentarily entertained as the power-washer sprays the carrot end over end into the field (happy eating, Bambi’s Mom). My 7:00 a.m. oatmeal long since burned off, I munch on carrots until my stomach begins to cramp and make dangerous gurgling sounds.
Cold, sore and wet, I drag the last of the carrots indoors and convince myself that the 40 potato plants (and the weeds surrounding them) do not need to be dug up tomorrow.
A normal person would not go out the following day and spend another two hours digging up potato plants. A normal person might even accept a few punctured potatoes, rather than digging until they hit clay to avoid puncturing said-potato. A normal person would allow a few stray potatoes to stay in the ground, rather than stubbornly jabbing the pitchfork in again and again and again. A normal person would leave the weeds.
I am not normal.
But I am now in possession of 33 pounds of carrots. Now, all I have to do is wait until I can stand up without my back spasming (did I forget to mention the 8 hour drive home after the veggie patch ordeal?) so I can make enough carrot soup to have us saying “What’s up, Doc?” all winter long.
Note to self: do not get distracted at the computer and forget about the carrots steaming on the stove (again).
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant” – Robert Louis Stevenson
“The true harvest of my life is intangible – a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched” — Henry David Thoreau
“We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.” – Chuang Tzu
“We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest.” – Orison Swett Marden
“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” — Og Mandino