In the Garden
Yesterday afternoon I went to the garden and picked the last beans of summer from the vines. There was only a handful. Soon the plants will die back with the frost, be pulled up, and heaped in a pile to decompose so they can fertilize next year’s crop. The cycle of life.
This morning I stood at the kitchen counter and shelled that little handful. And as I shelled them I found myself moving a little slower, savoring the action, the feel of the beans in my fingers, the popping sound the hulls make as they open and release their treasures.
It’s so different in July and August when I spend so long hunched over in the garden harvesting that my back aches for longer than I care to say, and I can barely stand up straight the following day. And for the next little while or so, I shell so many beans that the pads of my fingers get tender to the point of pain.
Paul always asks me why I do it when I can go to the grocers and buy a can for less than a dollar. Horrified, I will immediately launch into a self-righteous speech that my garden is 100% organic without worrying about the margin of pesticides or fertilizer that the USDA allows for it to still be called organic. And then I remind him that homegrown food always tastes better. Heck , there's even a song about it called “Homegrown Tomatoes”.
“Homegrown tomatoes homegrown tomatoes
What'd life be without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love & homegrown tomatoes”
But what I don’t tell him is that despite the hard work and the pain that results from that work, there is the feeling of connection I get. Yes, I feel connected to the earth, to nature. I listen to the birds, see the bees, feel the warm sun on my shoulders and the cool soil on my hands and under my nails.
But I also feel a connection to the people who came before me. The ones who had to have a garden if they were going to eat. I come from generations of farmers. People who fed their families and made their living out of growing corn, cotton, tobacco. This is my lineage. Even though I never met many of them, these people are part of the reason I am who I am. There’s a strength, a solidness in those people, in those connections.
Today’s world is changing fast, and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing at all. When we say that phrase though, we tend to talk about technology: phones, iPads, laptops, internet. But there’s so much more. We no longer drag our laundry to the river, or beat the rugs with a stick, or draw water from the well. But all of these time-saving tools don’t really seem to save us time. They simply allow us to add more activities indiscriminately to our schedules and our lives.
Gardening changes that. There’s a sense of satisfaction in knowing that you and Mother Nature put dinner on the table. The garden takes us out of the rat race, the rushing through our days, eating whatever is quickest. Please don’t get me wrong, I have done more than my share of that, but every once in a while, slowing down and reconnecting is a really good thing.