A root awakening in the garden of evil (I mean Eden).

I love the color green. I love wearing it, seeing it and eating it. I even strive to be it. It’s a lot to live up to, and more often than not, I end up falling back into my default color … brown.

I am basically a method of transportation for DIRT.

Living where we do, and how we do, I find life is a constant struggle between these two hues. Since there are animal chores to be done twice daily inside and out, you are likely to find yourself, come bedtime, with clods of clay, fragments of feed and patches of poop annoyingly clinging to clothes, skin and hair.

In anticipation of this, six years ago when we began building this barmy abode, I repeatedly requested that everything be earth-toned: floors, walls, furniture and fixtures. We currently sport every shade of muck and mud known to Benjamin Moore & Sherwin-Williams.

Seeing the wall calendar currently show the month of August, I know it truthfully to always be two months ahead. Signing checks and school permission forms with October in the date department throws a constant reminder under my nose that the chore list is changing.

romancing the garden glove

romancing the garden glove (Photo credit: curlsdiva)

Seeing the multiplying emails from our homestead’s chief strategist and tactician, Roger, arrive in our inbox, or guiltily acknowledging the growing stack of precisely laid out hacienda homework he has purposefully proposed, leaves no doubt with the message: get your gloves on, it’s time to tame the terrain.

Everyone in my family will attest that when it comes to gardening, my thumb is khaki-colored at best. I can successfully grow the fruit and veg needed to supply more than enough for my family’s culinary needs, with the extras pushed into the hands of our visiting Fed-Ex drivers, propane deliverymen and lawnmowers, as well as anyone who happens to accidentally come upon the house by taking a wrong turn. This particular garden is rich with offerings, and I’m beginning to believe, capable of enormous resilience after sessions of either my absence or mismanagement.

What is truly frustrating is that I’m surrounded by people who are incredibly capable landscapers, horticulturists and master gardeners. Give any one of them a sliver of someone’s fingernail and they can propagate the rootstock for a new human being. They have immeasurable talent, energy and knowledge.

Gardening equipment and tools, and grafting di...

Gardening equipment and tools, and grafting diagrams. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I, on the other hand, merely look at the garden and sigh with exhaustion. I immediately come to the conclusion that I need a nap.

When my mother arrives at the house, armed with a flotilla of tools, soil and a gleam in her eye, I detect the blood draining from my head and begin to feel woozy, realizing I’ve left things too late and will now have to pay for my negligence by sucking up forty-eight hours worth of nettled knees and a barking back. It’s my own fault. Somehow I’d hoped no one would notice the overabundance of choking weeds, smothering vines and disfiguring deadwood.

Not many people can appreciate the prairie look, but it does grow on you after a while … if not around you after laxity.

There is a massive difference between her glistening, well-oiled and surgically-sharpened gardening implements and my rust-covered, jagged-edged Ginsu knife picked up at a local county fair from a slick kitchen demonstration by a Brylcreem carnie.

My mother prods me through the gardens, requiring I take notes as she instructs what will need doing once she leaves me on my own. There are precise methods of pruning—“One can’t just hack!”

I like the satisfying sound of a good hack.

Believe it or not, not everything is a weed, which makes my efforts to weed whack tedious and tricky. Long tall green things look so much the same to me. The only reason I don’t rip most crops out of the potager is because I give them two months to get going and usually by that time there’s a berry or a bean hanging from it. Anything outside of the kitchen garden looks suspicious to me and if it does not sport a flower or has not been painstakingly labeled by Roger, my instinct is to cleave and yank.

There were multiple times this weekend when I heard sharp intakes of breath that did not come from my lungs. What followed were my mother’s masked attempts to cover an overwhelming urge to tsk. I don’t blame her. If I were her, I’d probably take a shovel to the back of my head. Trailing these negative assessments of my lack of familiarity was my insistence that duct tape is man’s best friend. Apparently, Mother Nature does not share this opinion.

Rip Van Winkle Illustration by NC Wyeth

Rip Van Winkle Illustration by NC Wyeth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Still, we carried on, my mother pruning, snipping, coaxing and trimming, me … carving, lancing, docking, gashing, lopping, sawing, severing and slashing. Some of us did better than others.

Regardless, there is a small chunk of the garden that is now, thanks to the know-how and hard work of other people, ready for a winter snooze of around forty winks. Sadly, the rest of the garden will have to face certain insomnia until I can review all my notes. Seeing as though it’s only August, I’ve got plenty of time.


Don’t forget to check out what’s cookin’ in the Scullery this week (here) and what we’re all talkin’ about down in the pub (here)!

9 thoughts on “A root awakening in the garden of evil (I mean Eden).

  1. “There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
    ~ Carl Jung


    I believe this may pertain to you, in some fashion. You may put off what is to be the inevitable… that of assisting (cleaning, trimming, pulling weeds, basic TLC) your once bountiful garden in preparation for a long winters nap. The earth too must rest in order for its rebirth for next year’s production, giving and fulfillment for your family’s pantry.

    Everything must and does eventually come to its own terms; finality if you can say. Self acceptance most often is the easiest spiritual way to assist and ease the pain. Your mother, whom I believe has a personal direct red phone line to Mother Nature herself is right when sighing under her breath as she attempts to direct you, educate you or even, with at best, poor attempts to humbly and quietly assist you with learning more about which plant is edible, and what is not to be pulled out of the ground as if participating in a tractor pull; rather to be gently removed as not to redistribute the seeds from an undesirable weed.

    I have so much admiration for your many talents; music, creative and humorous writings and muses, superior gastronomic abilities from the kitchen… yes, this could become grossly an over abundance of just how great you are and envy on my part only shows weakness. I digress.

    I suggest you create a serenity circle in your garden where no one, not even Mother Nature and her crew are allowed to break barriers and go there when things become even a tad overwhelming. Breathe and accept your mother’s direction during those hours of gardening chores. Or, rather just completely give in a just give the gardening to her. You have, after all, given her a place at your table. Let go and live.

    P.s. Carl Jung loved gardening too; however he truly enjoyed building rock walls and carving in Latin. Maybe that could be your thing. No worries about weeds or seeds.

    S 🙂

    • I’m with Carl on this one–with maybe a tiny variation. I’m going to enjoy building rock piles and carving in the dirt. I’m very good at winning every game of tic tac toe when playing against myself. Serenity at its best. Thank you for the solid advice.

    • No, it’s true. Some people were meant to be mothering nature and I have always been mothered by nature. Most green things silently scream in fear when I step out of the house with a hoe in my hand. I’m doing them all a favor by turning a blind eye.

  2. I must confess to loving a good hack myself…. followed by lots of vigorous ripping out by the roots! Anything that needs careful pruning scares me 😦
    I’m very guilty for letting my garden get out of hand (not the kitchen garden that I feature but the jungle known as my “next project”) and it’s easy to let time run away.
    That’s one dirty dog you have there! LOL!

    • Most of my vigorous ripping out by the roots ends up being clump-fulls of my own hair after I realize I’ve irreparably damaged half the garden. C’est la vie, I shall live vicariously through your “jungle” come springtime!

  3. Currently without a garden while we house hunt, so I’m being a bit of a slacker myself. I did enjoy reading about your tribulations though. Your writing always gives me a giggle. I’d say your dog seems to know his way around a dirt pile too, adorable!

    • The next time I should find myself house hunting, I will insist we look at nothing that does not have plastic turf for a lawn and silk flowers in the garden. I hope you find your dream home. Happy sleuthing!

      • Ha, thanks for that! I was in your shoes just a short time ago, and sympathize whole heartedly. Now in a Condo, I got my garden fix via hanging baskets. I’m hoping to find something in-between. The next yard has to be an enjoyable diversion instead of a time consuming chore.

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