I have been in my garden making preparations for winter. Every October I have a mixture of sadness and relief. I have to confess that I am not a happy gardener; I am reluctant and resentful. The only reason I have a garden is because I am motivated by guilt. You see the previous owners of our home, put in a beautiful garden with raised flowerbeds and a fence that borders the garden. The entrance is covered by a wisteria plant and there are raspberry bushes, blueberry bushes, herbs, flowers and an area for vegetables too. I didn't (and still don't) have the heart to let it go to seed, so every spring I enter into the gardening season with determination that this year...I will win.
I have been a little unnerved when I am in my local nursery and see those decorative signs that read "Paradise started in a garden..." or have other messages that ooze with the joy of gardening. I have yet to share in those, every time I enter my garden, I do a cross check to see if I am armed for the upcoming battle. I have seen improvement in my mindset; after the first year, I made peace with the fact that the plants are not my enemies, although they can be rebellious like teenagers. The second year I successfully identified my enemies, and although insects are high on that list, it was the shy, wide eyed, innocent-looking deer and those cute fuzzy, cuddly rabbits that topped my most-wanted list. The nursery called them "pests"; I prefer the name "terrorists". Here are some interesting facts about deer and rabbits: Deer not only like raspberry bushes, they have an affinity for roses. They will not eat the bush but they pop off the blooms and then leave their tracks everywhere. Something I have against rabbits is this: They don't usually go after my carrots which I planted extra of in order to "share" with the local wildlife, they loved my tomatoes. I would find the debris of the previous night's feeding frenzy the following morning when I went to water. They are wasteful, sloppy eaters who never had their conscience quickened by the "starving children in Africa" speeches we all got as kids.
I stood in my garden this past week and thought of the bounty that it produced this year: 10 tomatoes from six plants, some sugar snap peas, and two apples. I assessed the amount of labor that went into that produce and was overwhelmed with gratitude that the Lord chose me to be born at such a time as this, when there are produce stands, farmer's markets, and grocery stores. I also gave thanks that those I love do not have to survive off of my crops because we wouldn't have lasted the first winter. I know I will continue to try and learn. I am determined that one day I will walk into my local nursery and not cause the salesmen to cringe. I will object louder next February when my husband attempts to prune the apples trees with a chainsaw...again. I will remember which insects I bought the pest spray for last year...and why. I will speak much quieter next August when I am standing in the middle of my garden and wondering what it would look like as a half-court basketball court. I will look upon it as a place to sow and reap and not a place to sweat and curse.
I am not sure whether I will ever be a person who would garden for stress relief , especially since most of mt stress starts in the garden. But I believe that there is hope and I will stop looking at my gardening tools as weapons and my pest control as chemical warfare. And maybe, just maybe, I can read a sign about Paradise and gardens and find some kind of agreement.