A garden is such a generous thing.
You turn the soil and place all those little seeds just so,
depending on your temperament and the amount of time available,
and then you wait.
First, there are the tiny little sprouts,
poking their tips up through the tender soil,
and then leaves and stems, and
suddenly there’s a whole plant just there where there wasn’t anything before.
And one little seed gives you quarts of pickles or bowls of salad,
heaping tablespoons of herb-y deliciousness to add to ordinary fare.
And because you weren’t sure if one row of spinach or three tomato plants
would be enough for all of the canning and freezing and general preserving
that you wanted to do,
you planted twice that much,
just in case
of hail or disease,
and then you realize that even if you preserved until you ran the store out of jars you’d never get it all saved, so you give it away.
Bags of spinach and swiss chard go home with your children’s friends,
zucchini and summer squash accompany you to church,
and there’s always fresh rhubarb cobler on the table.
You trade (“If you take my extra zucchini I’ll find a use for that bucket of peppers”)
and you wheedle (“Surely you wanted to try turnips?”)
and you proudly display seven or eight garden vegetables at every meal.
You make jellies and pickles and chop and parboil until you’re sick of the entire mess,
but you keep on…
…because you know that, come winter,
when you crack open a jar of cinnamon cucumber pickles
or defrost bright red bells for your fajitas,
then all of the memories of summer
(your daughter dashing across the yard to catch her first firefly,
the conversation with your growing son over the weeds in the carrots)
will come drifting back and you will remember.
A garden is a generous thing.
It provides for the table,
builds relationships, and
brings back to the dead of winter that thing we long for most: summer.