Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The First Pea

From the bean of Green Bean.

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.


ruchi said...

Sigh. Oh, GB, I'd give anything to write like you. I know that wasn't the point of the article, but I've always been struck by the beauty of your writing, and the poetry you find in everyday life. I really want you to go back to creative writing so I can read your books! :)

EcoBurban said...

Jealous, so jealous... Nothing is growing here yet, everything is brown, melty and mushy. Today is my very first day in short sleeves though, so there is hope. Bikes have come off of the garage rafters, winter coats have been tossed aside and I am not wearing socks. I hope to see tulips and daffodils soon! Great post, GB!

Heather @ SGF said...

Definitely more time intensive to live a more simple life, but OH is it worth it. Every day is now different, every day a different adventure.

I think when we live the life that society expects of us, it's easy to go into auto pilot. The dishwasher washes the dishes, (as you said) the lawn company does the lawn, the car takes us to work and back just like it does every day...

But when we step out of that routine to live mindfully, all the sudden we look forward to what comes next - the seeds, or the canning, the next's seasons bounty, or the bike ride to the store.

So a little more energy, yeah. But to live a life others may only dream of... well, it's worth every extra minute.

Mama said...

Very elegantly put! My last post elicited a commenter to call us victory garden planters "bourgeois BS", but I know that seeking a simpler, self-sufficient life is a far cry from bourgeois. Keep on planting!

Green Bean said...

Ruchi: Ah, that is sweet of you. If you watch the kids, I'll write. ;-)

EcoBurban: Hey, not wearing socks is a big one!! And don't forget, we may have fantastic weather but no water.

Heather: So true. It makes life full of joy and interest. I never noticed the yard when the gardener came or really tasted jam until I got more invested.

Mama: Hardly bourgeois BS. In so many ways, a victory garden is wonderful. It adds meaning and richness to life, saves money, tastes better, re-localizes food preventing possible contamination, reduces resources used for transporting food as well as use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and reuses a little of that farm land that has been paved over in the last few decades.

Daisy said...

It's more work, but it's worth every minute. My garden is still snowcovered, and I'm hoping for a week of really warm days to melt what's left. Then...time to spread the compost!

kale for sale said...

I could taste those peas you shelled. Thanks for sharing them. And for the reminder that I need to get my pots ready for the summer herbs and peppers. It looks like another year in the condo without a garden but the lack of a real yard makes every little thing grown or foraged all the tastier. And I kind of like the challenge. I dream of having the front yard garden like you though. Please keep sharing yours.

Catherine said...

How nostalgic this makes me for the beginning of Spring.It's the end of the growing season here. My one self-seeded tomato plant finally produced one ripe tomato which was promptly stolen by a resident pest. A possum, I think: cute but voracious

JessTrev said...

Oooh! I so need to get some seedlings in... I'm with Ruchi, I love to hear the music of your writing. Thanks for sharing your garden dreams with us -- and you really have a pomegranate tree?! Wowza!

Green Bean said...

Daisy: Ahhh, the compost. Your favorite. :)

Katrina: Yes, I remember growing herbs and tomatoes in pots when I was in a condo. It did make the little I squeezed out so much more meaningful.

Catherine: Sounds like my tomatoes last year. Damn squirrels.

Jess: Yes, really a pomegranate tree. Bush really because it's pretty petite. A fellow victory gardener passed it on to me as a baby baby plant a year and a half ago. Going strong.

Daisy said...

Agreed - it is totally worth the effort.


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