Right now, my hands smell like chives and parsley and it has been awhile since that’s been true.
Gardening can look like a poor metaphor when my glazed eyes are surveying this year’s small attempt at growing food; three years in New Mexico has taught me that it is a true endeavor to eek sustenance out of the red soil. Locally, I am captivated and appalled by this sad ending of Gaia Gardens; an amazing exemplar of how to do just that.
My time in fertile parts of the country and my penchant for staring at homesteading blogs in my early years of parenting has kept me trying, but this year I have scaled way back on my ambitions. Lazily, I have flat out refused to water for stretches of time, trusting in rains that only fall by whim and chance to provide for my plants.
So, rather than expecting groceries to emerge from my patch of earth when for three years I have been witness to withering and dying by sun, drought, insect, cat and benign neglect, I tried to keep it way simple. Carrots and basil planted alongside my boy, greens in the hoop house, experimental melons and squashes, sunflowers for fun, oh, and potatoes, because I never have.
My ability to tend is all used up most days before the plants make the list, but one of the sweetest times of day is just past bedtime, just past sunset, standing in the yard. This year, as a gardener and landscaper cum woman of the earth, I have most relished trimming back plants, ripping out weeds, digging and yanking out roots and food plants gone to flower to soon. This is why I smell of parsley, and chives, right now.
All I really want these days is for my children and myself to have the opportunity to eat directly from plants rooted in the earth. I don’t need to be the one to sow and tend them directly, but simply to recognize and honor them while they are enjoyed. I want to be part of the village, rather than trying to be the village.
Most of what I planted this season is now suffering along the spectrum of Failure to Thrive and I fall back into gratefulness for those who do the planting and tending for me. The real metaphor in my gardening life is to do what I can and do it well, in time.
The other evening, I was able to reach up from my lazy, midnight hammock ride and pluck a grape right into my mouth, late summer sweetness is all around.