- Sometimes it seems like the whole world is going crazy, doesn’t it? We are overwhelmed with a constant stream of news about the oil spill, the economy, mad Mel and his baby mama drama, and so forth. Sometimes you just need to make it stop! You need some measure of control. You need a breath of fresh air.
When I get to feeling that way, I head for the garden. At this time of year, there is plenty to do, but gardening is not work, it is refuge. I disconnect. No news, no computer, no cable, no cell phone. My husband joins me, and the dogs keep us company. He puts piano music on the Bose system, and I fill a couple of Mason jars with ice and Fresca. The cows in the pecan grove look up from their grazing and moo a soft greeting to us.
We don’t talk much, we just start doing whatever needs to be done. After 26 years together, we work quietly in tandem. As I creep along each bed, pulling and pruning, he moves the umbrella to shade me from the sun and gathers the weeds that pile up on the dewy grass beside me. I am pleased to notice lots of beneficial insects, like ladybugs and lacewings. Earthworms burrow away from me into the soft, warm soil. Butterflies and dragonflies enjoy the sunflowers, and bees lazily sip lavender blossoms. A fat toad blinks at me from under the overgrown tarragon. He finds refuge in the garden, too. Nature is in balance, and it is good.
We pull out what is left of the cucumbers and the green beans. They have been coaxed to the end of their productive lives. We stake the peppers and eggplants, which thrive in the heat, as does the okra. The jalapenos are plentiful, so we pick a bunch. Tonight we will stuff them with cream cheese, wrap them in smoky bacon, and grill them for an appetizer. The weeds that threaten to take over are dismissed to the compost pile. The chickens are given fresh pine shavings to nest in and a cool, crispy head of lettuce to nibble. We gather fat brown and blue eggs so fresh they are still warm. Nancy Pelosi, our rooster, struts around squawking orders to the hens–head of the house, as always. I laugh and tell him he’s obnoxious and gorgeous.
I wander over to inspect the Alma fig tree, and it is loaded with plump fruit, but the fruit is still green. I cannot wait for those first figs. Fresh figs, a wedge of cheese and a glass of wine make a heavenly trio, and I look forward to that moment of ripe perfection. I daydream about making fig preserves, and maybe fig vinegar.
We pick ripe, scented melons, yellow currant tomatoes, and fresh herbs. As we reap what we have sown, my mind empties, and the stress melts away. I feel connected again. Slowly, order is restored to the garden, and gardening soothes my soul. The muggy July heat eventually drives us inside, and nothing is finished. A garden is always a work in process.