Wednesday, June 18, 2014

(Not So) Idle Hands

I woke up yesterday morning to the sounds and smells of a summer that is almost here.  I lay there, delightedly breathing in wet-grass-laced-with-peonies while four separate bird songs rang out against the background hum of early morning traffic.  It was a beautiful kind of morning, one that I have not only found again, but also re-learned to appreciate.  The gentleness.  The sweetness, made extra so by the sense of stolen time as these moments were fleeting and would end suddenly as soon as the twins woke up.   My regret for leaving my bed faded as I slipped on my gardening clogs and headed outside to plant before it got too steamy and our morning too busy.

Normally my garden would be in by now.  Although our growing season is shorter than our southern neighbours, we generally have things in the ground after May 2-4 weekend (Victoria Day--the third Monday in May) as that is usually a good landmark for last frost.  Usually.  This year wasn't the case so initially it was good that I was behind schedule, but now that we are looking at the middle of June, those extra three weeks could make the difference between an extra batch of canning or not.  Normally, I would be panicking and in full grown "shoulda/hafta" mode... I should do this... I "shoulda done" that... I hafta do this... I DEFINITELY hafta do that... and so on.  Not this year.  Not this year by far. 

This year I wouldn't even have a vegetable garden if it wasn't for my brother and my Mom.  My mother starts all her seedlings herself and she sent some leftover plants down.  My brother also had a few left over that he had purchased commercially.  Most of them had sat on my front porch, "hardening" well beyond the point that they should have.  I decided on this gorgeous morning that I was going to take the time and put them in once and for all.

I carried my seedlings out back and took stock of what I had.

Plants from my Mother
[Photo description:  many tomato seedlings in labelled plastic drinking cups.  They are very green and healthy.]

Plants from my Brother [Photo description:  Several tomato seedlings in two square plastic commercial pots.  They are not as green and healthy.]
From Mom I had a couple Roma tomato plants, several Glamour (bright red, medium tomatoes), and a some called Canabec (which is a shorter growing, pinkish tomato), a black cherry tomato plant and something called "Matt's Wild Cherries".  I'm not sure who Matt is and why his cherry tomatoes are wilder than other people's, but hey.  Free tomatoes.  My brother gave me some Sweet Million cherry tomatoes and five Yellow Boy tomato plants.

Usually I have vegetables and herbs but this year I am just doing tomatoes.  First rule of gardening:  only plant what you desire and have time for.  I divided the tomatoes from the cherry tomatoes and started pulling weeds and preparing the soil to transplant.  As I was doing so, my mind wandered.  That's one of the best parts about gardening actually, the ability to allow your thoughts to meander gently in all directions as you connect yourself physically to the earth.

As my mind drifted, I thought about my kids and my advocacy work and how lately, my heart has not been into maintaining my online efforts.  They too have gone fallow in spots, overgrown with weedy spam in others and not as tended to as they should be.  Again, I would normally launch into another round of "shoulda/hafta", and a lot of guilt and self-loathing but not this time.  Not this time by far.

I started thinking that my garden is a larger metaphor than I ever imagined.  If I cultivate here, put my efforts there, something else is going to do without.  It's a metaphor for my own life, and in turn rather a microcosm in a much bigger one.  I know a few of you are now scratching your heads and wondering what I've been smoking, but bear with me for a bit.  Right now, I'm taking the "English Garden" approach to most of my online efforts, hacking away at major issues here and there and generally leaving them alone for a while to divert my attentions elsewhere.  I just make sure there is a path through the taller foliage.

Instead, I'm cultivating my family and myself. 

It's an exciting time for all the kids:  Wyatt is just on the edge of walking and comes up with new words every single day.  Zoe continues to astound us with... well, everything about her, really, while Quinn is finishing second grade and constantly offering up facts about the most random things that amaze all assembled. 

Me?  Well, I'm coming along fine, thank you.

There will be plenty of things to write about and this blog will not slowly recede into the creeper and the ivy.  However, the subject matter will continue to blossom beyond my son's chromosomes, to include disability, mental health/illness and more.  As it should, because ultimately this blog is about a family, not just one boy with a diagnosis.  Many things grow in our garden, some exotic, some more familiar, some toxic, some therapeutic.  It's really just a matter of perspective on each of these things as well, as what is poisonous to some is healing to others.

Before I leave you to work on the other two pieces of writing that occurred to me as I pulled weeds, transplanted, prepared the soil and marveled at the warming breeze that cooled the sweat on my back, I told you all of that to tell you this:  Life, especially mine, is very much a garden.  Some years you have good weather and a long growing season, some you don't.  Sometimes you get hail or high winds or blight that takes out your whole crop.    Sometimes you have to leave the soil fallow for a whole season, barren and naked to the elements and allow for renewal.  Some years you have to pay for the excesses of others and nurture the soil, adding nutrients, destroying pests and cultivating a rich medium in which to grow.  You grow what you can manage, sharing the excess with family, friends and neighbours.

You get some surprises too:

There will be those that volunteer to help:

My surprise "volunteer" tomato [Photo description:  tiny tomato seedling that grew in the garden of its own accord]
 Those that visit for a time:
Feral kitten that hung out with me before vanishing through the fence [Photo description: tiny grey striped kitten calmly sitting upright underneath a child's raised sandbox]

Those that you thought gone, yet make a surprise return:
Rosebuds on the bush I thought I lost [Photo description:  rosebush stem with 5 rosebuds on it]
 And those perennial friends that are faithful no matter what.
White peonies [Photo description:  White peony bloom with bud surrounded by green leaves]
There are also spiders and ants and earthworms and other somewhat icky things that have their role, just as much as the dirt and sweat.  But together, this garden, this life is a beautiful thing.  You just have to take a deep breath of the morning air, step back, behold the wonders that it offers... and occasionally prepare to get your hands dirty.

[Down Wit Dat Will Return...]

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