Gardening is more than planting and reaping

Published 6:47 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2023

By Harold Brummett
Denmark Star Route

Gardening brings to mind my friend Phillip who moved away years ago. He is a large, loud, opinionated Serbian and we expressed many long, loud and different viewpoints on various issues.

I miss our talks, debates, arguments. I miss him.

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Phillip, who grew up in communist Yugoslavia, had a father who was a colonel in that Army. Phillip spoke of having to grow food where they lived because the pay his father received never actually covered the cost of feeding the family.

Phillip as a young man hated gardening.

Phillip enjoyed coming out to the farm at Denmark and helping. Phillip asked me how something he hated as a young man could become enjoyable as he grew older. My theory was that we are all peasants. One generation removed from the land. The texture and feel of the dirt awakens something in us after generations and generations of toil. The connection with the soil completes a circuit in the soul. Therefore, we garden.

Gardening feeds the spirit as well as the body. Watching a plant grow from seed to table is wondrous. The cucumber sends out tendrils for support, blind but able to feel, the cucumber plant wraps itself around what it touches for support.

Bees go from bloom to bloom taking what they need for survival and in turn giving what the plant needs to procreate. Potato blooms are delicate, while garlic blooms are gregarious orbs that demand attention from the pollinators.

The process is marvelous.

For gardeners there is a need in the spring to till and plant. When in the Army and moving from place to place unable to garden properly a five-gallon bucket had to suffice. The crops were puny and success measured in ones and twos, but the urge to grow something was somewhat sated.

Vigilance of the creatures that would share the crops is required of the gardener who has watered the soil with sweat. Bugs, birds, deer, rabbits and squirrels without the burden of establishing ownership want a portion of the bounty.

Sharing with other creatures is only an option after filling the larder. The garden abandoned in the fall to grow wild before laying fallow for the winter.

In the garden, the presence of my father whispers in my ear with lessons taught over a lifetime. I hear my mother as I hoe telling me that the grass takes water and nutrients from vegetables we are trying to grow.

As I grow older and the garden tasks that were easy now become more difficult. There is a sense of an ending someday of planting, growing and harvesting, the season over.

Phillip and I reminisced of what life was like then, compared to now. Phillip touched the necessity his father felt half a world and
a lifetime away, and took pleasure working in a garden he hated long ago.