Stretching up to my chin, the trim green leaves blotted out the dirt, the borage that really did reseed itself, the dormant foxglove and even the wide stepping stones we put in last fall. A plump green pea pod stood in contrast against the grey March sky. I reached over and gently tugged it from the vine. White flowers, I noted. Shelling pea. The purple flowers were for snap peas and I let the kids get those. But no one was touching my shelling peas.
Sitting on the porch steps, I pried open the pod. Seven tiny peas lined up like clothes in a tween's closet. Popping them in my mouth, one by one, I realized that I should have waited until the pod was a bit fuller. I also realized that I had a lot of work to do.
It is March and the garden waits for no one. Not even a mom consumed with school volunteer programs and parcel tax campaigns. I shuffled through the envelopes I'd set out on the bench earlier. Pretty packages of pink and green spilled out. Zinnias. Ice box watermelon. Amish pie pumpkin. Potato runner beans. My hopes and dreams for the summer. My homemade meals for the winter.
In years past, spring marched through the garden with neither pomp nor circumstance. The green lawn stretched out sleepily as in winter or summer. The daisies perhaps a bit perkier. The dearth of bees and sparrows rarely varied with the months. The gardeners came through with a bit more regularity perhaps. March never triggered a flurry of activity before. The urgent need to tie back the passion fruit vine, the "o" of surprise when a toad or ladybugs overwintered in the cover crop, the pink blueberry buds peeking out from autumn's leaves that, neglected, decomposed in the planting beds.
As I sat on my front steps, surrounded by seed packets and dreams, I realize that living this way is a lot more work. I cannot rely on a gardener to mow and blow through my yard once a week. In fact, that gardener and, with him an $80 monthly expense, is long gone. No one will cut down the cover crop and drag it to the compost bin but me. I'm the only one who will take the time - while the kids are in gymnastics class - to sketch out the yard, the open planting spaces, consult Carrots Love Tomatoes, and figure out just where to put the carrots and the tomatoes, the peppers and the potatoes too. When seeds need to be planted or weeds retrieved, it will be my hands that become dirty and chapped. When the grape vine needs to be trained over the trellis or the pomegranate tree transplanted, the responsibility will fall on me. But I'll also get the first picked pea of the season.
It is a lot more work than a lawn and some benign daisies. Easing that last little pea out of the pod and into my mouth, I look out at next summer's garden. It's more work but worth every bite.