Friday, July 26, 2013

Just Humor Me

     I'm hoping that in a couple months I'll have a wonderful story of garden redemption for you, where in the midst of a summer that has felt like an inhospitable rain forest a large harvest was gathered and preserved, in a timely manner, too.

     So far this season, our garden is dismal. While it seems like the world is canning billions of quarts of green beans, our beans don't amount to a hill of beans. The peppers we rely on are missing in inaction. We had a decent berry harvest, and there can still be a turn around with the corn and tomatoes, but overall it's been a little frightening. You see, we rely on what we grow to feed us throughout the year, especially during the lean months of late winter. While growing anything is never a guarantee of a bountiful harvest, I still feel like digging a hole with my pitchfork and climbing into it. The main thing stopping me is the heat and exertion it would take to dig a hole at this point. Oh, and the humidity. I should have planted mango trees and bananas.

      I've been thinking a lot about the cost of growing versus buying and preserving. Would it be cheaper in the long run next year to buy boxes of vegetables? I already do this with some things anyway, like peaches and apples. Admittedly, I would miss the free gym membership that gardening provides, and instant access to a perfect ripening tomato. It's a hard call to make right now. I just hate waste, especially wasted efforts.

      For some reason, waste has always been a bigger sin to me than plenty of other equal wrongs. When I was a child, my mother clipped a picture out of the newspaper of a poor, blind little girl and kept it at the table. Whenever I didn't want to finish my meal or eat, she would threatened to send my food to this child in the picture. I kid you not. Had she actually followed through, that would have suited me fine. At least someone would have finished the meal. Maybe the blind girl actually liked pork and cabbage, whereas I was just humoring everybody.

     Thirty years later, a man gave me a tour of an enormous garden he shared with his son. Quite a patch, with a dazzling array of vegetables. It could have fed twenty people all year but it was only meant for five. I asked how he went about preserving all his goods, and who did the canning, etc.? "We don't bother with that," he said.
"What we don't eat just gets plowed under." I still wonder what my face looked like at that moment, and did he notice? He could have at least had the decency to mention a freezer. Just humor me, I thought.

     One day I spilled some bird seed in the backyard, and felt bad about it. Not long after, I noticed a sunflower growing in that same spot, which I carefully dug up moved to my flower garden.  It bloomed and is so far nicer than the decorative sunflowers I am intentionally growing with quality seed.

       Like I said, I don't like to waste anything.


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