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Words on Gardens, Farms and Family

My best look is old dirt stained jeans and knee high rubber boots, on a cold day add a fleece, and I'm in heaven. Our tiny farm helps to feed my family, as well as a couple of friends and the local food pantry during bountiful harvests. It provides a break from the tedium of a computer screen and a reminder of how simple life can be, if that's what you chose.

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Taken by Nature


Taken By Nature ~ May 9, 2020

Similar to the dog, our vegetable garden must be surprised at the attention it receives lately. I planted sugar snap peas on St. Patrick’s Day, shortly thereafter carrot, beet and radish seeds in the ground and all the other frost weary seeds in pots with temporary sunny window homes. We’re now at the dangerous point in spring when I watch the 10-day forecast and debate back and forth to jump ahead of the May 15th frost date and pray for warm nights.

Last Sunday, May 3rd, I spent a lot of time in the garden, tilling two large sections of soil (with our new tiller), raking the chocolate cake dirt into squares and rows following the plan I mapped out in February, before we truly knew how crazy our life would get. More accurately how slow and determined the world would become. My husband walked in the garden, as if awkwardly stepping into my office, his face serious. The nursing home called, my father-in-laws fever that started yesterday morning had escalated into troubled breathing and a lack of appetite for food or water; he was on a rapid decline. Unlike many other scenarios we heard about, my husband was offered a last visit, he would be completely suited in protective gear, and given a chance to say good-bye.

He needed to go. We hugged and he left. I continued working, feeling and smelling the dirt in my hands, smoothing the edges of the beds and losing the determined focus that came out to the garden with me. Slowly I planted our lettuce seedlings in neat little squares and a long line of leeks between the two rows of carrots. 

How could it be happening so fast. During these last several dementia filled years he’s had a number of close calls, two broken hips, unexplained illnesses and cautioning “this could be the end” phone calls, but he always pulled through. Although, now we’re in the middle of a pandemic and nursing homes have been the most vulnerable. 

My family has been home for close to two months, enough time to settle into routines, get on each other’s nerves and go a little stir crazy. Periodically we get take out from our favorite restaurants, (tip them well) and feel guilty for our modest inconvenience as it relates to our country and the world. Then on this warm, sunny afternoon we get a call, making us feel less guilty.

My planting is done and I water using an old watering can with a soft sprinkler head because the hose in the garden isn’t on yet. A soft spray catches the sunlight and gently arcs from the nozzle barely moving the tender plants as they touch. I move on to thinning the radishes, just a handful or so at a time, to add to our salads on home-made dinner nights. Some of the baby radishes are unbelievably perfect, the spicy little greens and miniature red bulbs, they almost catch my breath they're so perfect. Unblemished and ideal as they are, whole, rinsed of course, and popped into the salad bowl along with the miniature sorrel and mustard green leaves I pulled from the compost bin, the tiny roots attached, delicate and delicious. My movements go in slow motion, noticing what too often goes unnoticed.

Nature creates these little wonders, leftovers from last years seed packet or ground, waiting for soil, water and light. Beautiful food is created, over and over again if we choose. But sometimes nature chooses things for us, like the corona virus, things that are not so beautiful, and at times impossible to see except when a person you love is struggling to breathe and you are called to come say good-bye.

When my husband returned he left his shoes outside, his clothes went straight into the washing machine and he upstairs to shower. The visit, with complete protective covering, was good. He spoke to his sleeping father who once or twice opened an eye. He told him he loved him, that everyone loved him and the daughter of a close friend (an Ohio State fan) was going to Michigan, his beloved alma mater. 

The five of us talked over dinner about the virus, it’s impact and the sadness of losing someone you love. Earlier the nursing home said if he lasted until Wednesday they would be surprised. They called while we were doing the dishes, they were right, he had passed. 

Learning About Fruit Trees

Our fruit trees are about seven years old. Peaches, pears, apples and cherries. Two summers ago we had a bumper crop of peaches. Last year none. I'll be blogging about what I found out and would love to hear any advice.

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