I never thought I’d miss a garden, until decades past the last time I had one. It wasn’t really my garden. It was The Garden, caps intended.
The Garden at my childhood home was big. I’d say at it’s peak, it took up at least a quarter of our 2 acre lot. There were flowers along the edge, marigolds in front of cosmos, but the rest was utilitarian.
Long rows of strawberries, four currant bushes, and a row of raspberry canes for jam. Tomatoes for canning, cucumbers for pickles and relish, peppers, beans, carrots, peas to freeze. The garden made enough food for a family of four to eat well over a long winter.
It was a shit ton of work. Prepping the soil, planting, weeding, harvesting, preserving. I have memories of spending days and days hoeing between rows of plants, picking and shelling peas, hulling strawberries, peeling tomatoes.
But I also remember days and days of doing sweet fuck all, lazing by the pool, exploring the forest, or bicycling around the neighbourhood with my friends who had also been set free to go feral over the summer.
And now I have a garden. Mostly vegetables, with a few flowers. Keith always says its too big, but he said that last year, and we’ve now expanded it by a factor of three.
I think it was the second or third thing I ever wrote for Chris was a story about telling time by red fruit. It was Uber nostalgic, wondering if I could get that feeling back.
I did. Being unemployed right now is giving me back those long lazy days of slow. Time is moving differently than it did last year. Gone is the need to know what day it is, although it would be good to remember so I don’t miss any more writing sessions. I watch the garden every day, pulling weeds and talking to the cucumbers, wondering where the peanuts went (I blame chipmunks, but it’s also possible they are planted with the beets).
Slow gardening is telling time through what’s ripening. The rhubarb is ready, so I’m keeping a lookout for strawberries. Maybe next year we’ll plant a row.