From the bean of Green Bean.
My back hurt. Something hard and pointed dug into my abdomen. My left calf cramped. Blood seeped slowly from a small cut on my pinkie.
I really shouldn't be doing this, I thought, as I leaned further forward and flexed every muscle in my body. Where was my husband or the kids? Or a neighbor? I cocked my head scanning the street. I needed help!
I shifted my weight slightly, contorting into the Reverse Warrior. Slowly, I eased my hand under, stretched out my fingers and, with my thumb deftly snapped the base of the cherry tomato.
Reaching to the left, I set the full basket on the stone walkway - next to three other full baskets. What was I supposed to do with all these, I wondered. In the distance, I heard a car engine. Darting over the picket fence and onto the sidewalk, I hoped to God it was a neighbor or a friend. The car slowed down as it passed but didn't stop. A stranger. I debated running after the car for help but decided I could wait. My neighbors had to come home or emerge from behind their closed doors at some point. When they did, I'd be waiting.
I sighed and crouched back down, angling under a lime green branch that had escaped the vanity cages in my front yard. I'd opted for wrought iron pyramids over the traditional cages because they would look prettier in my front yard garden. As I stretched for a low hanging branch of tomatoes, mingled in between the pumpkin leaves and cayenne peppers, I doubted if vanity cages were the best choice.
Last year, my front yard was mostly tame. True, sunflowers and pumpkins roamed along the sidewalk strip and the side yard, next to the driveway, buzzed and undulated in black, yellow, purple and red. A busy pollinator garden. But still, directly in front of the house, stretched a subdued greenish-brown lawn, peppered with dandelions and devil grass.
Late fall, I got a honey bee in my hand-knitted bonnet. We put in a fence, an arbor, a path and sheet mulch. Spring brought tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, a grape vine, watermelons and more.
Today, our front yard is a raucous orgy. The tomatoes tango with the cucumbers which intertwine with the peppers which lurk around the basil and beans which saunter next to the crookneck squash and so on. Zinnias, cosmos and marigolds pop up in odd places. Between the collard greens. Behind the pumpkins. Next to the potatoes and berries. Butterflies skitter over the yarrow, bees wander drunkenly from squash blossom to borage flower and bright yellow finches flit in and out of the sunflowers.
There's nothing tame here. Not even the amount of fruit and vegetables one year of gardening can produce. I'm picking over four baskets a day of cherry tomatoes. Think twice before dropping by the Green Bean household. You'll go home with full hands. Very full hands. Watermelon and pumpkins balloon in between the vines. Beans wave from their perch atop the black metal pyramid. I beat back the basil daily but cannot keep up with its slow onslaught upwards and outwards. It's wild here. The garden buzzes and churns with endless energy. It requires picking and wending and creative thinking and new recipes. It also invigorates and regenerates and lightens the step even as it fills up the baskets.
Uncoiling myself from in between the giant pumpkins and Early Girl tomatoes, I pick up my harvesting baskets. A neighbor pulls up across the street and makes off with a basket of my sungolds. Another neighbor brings her parents over to see what is growing. A passerby whips out his camera phone and snaps a photo. A landscaper working on a house up the street stops by to quiz me on the varieties of squash I'm growing. And, I hand off some basil to a friend dropping my son off from camp. My son in turn hefts up a basket and I, smiling from ear to ear, carry the two remaining as we walk back to the house.
I open the door for my son and then turn back to look at the buzzing, breeding garden. Life where once there was only lifeless lawn. Food where once there was empty space. Hope and happiness where once there was nothing. I square my shoulders and head inside to make dinner confident that everything is in order down on the farm.