One of my most favorite things about summer at our place is the garden. I can’t really take all the credit for it – my husband is the greener thumb in our house (the product of generations of farming in the midwest.) But just when the heavy darkness of the New England winter seems too much, our seed packets start arriving and summer dreaming begins. Planning a garden of vibrant wildflowers and delicious veggies gets you through a subzero morning almost as well as a coffee in a big old handmade mug (okay, maybe two cups.)
We started in early March this year, with trays on trays of seedlings in the basement, slowly moving plants out as we got past the first frost and into the spring. My son is always a bit sad to see the fence go up around the garden space – for the grownups it’s a sure sign that spring is coming, for the kiddo it means it’s time to find another spot for his on-going big dig site. There’s something magical about growing things (yes, even when you’re terrible at it like I am) – I watched my husband meticulously plan the rows on rows of delicious, beautiful growing things – and now here we are picking peppers and tomatoes and cucumbers off the vine. Have you ever smelled a tomato that’s just come from the earth? When it’s still warm from the sun, and smells just like summer itself? DIVINE. And maybe eaten it right there in the garden? Downright life-changing, honestly.
I’m learning that growing a garden isn’t that different from anything else you put your time and love into – sometimes the plants thrive and burst into the summertime sunshine, and sometimes that great idea you had to plant that one pumpkin seed turns out to be your worst weeding nightmare. But you keep trying. You keep digging, and planting, and turning the soil, and hoping you’ve done something to help nature along. I haven’t photographed this year’s garden adventure nearly as much as I wish I had. It’s crazy to think about how my own kiddo has changed so much since we started those seedlings in March. There are whole almost-four-year-old sentences coming out of his mouth, with jokes! And actual punchlines, that are mostly funny!
The truth is that if I’m lucky, every year will be like this – in the depths of winter, the beauty of summertime will feel like nothing other than a darling memory and I will be wishing to slow the days so my sweet little wild son doesn’t get bigger any faster, all while longing for the warmth of a July evening. And I’ll look back a few seasons later and wonder how I doubted summer, or the passing of time. Maybe next year, we’ll know a few more things for sure about the land we’re working, or the timing of the sun, or that just-right-way to keep pumpkins in their own corner. Maybe next year we won’t plant so many tomato plants (yes, future self, 24 is too many, trust me.) Maybe next year, I’ll remind myself to photograph more of it, so that many years from now my son will remember what our early days as urban-farming-wannabes were like while flipping through a dog-eared photo album. Until then we’ll eat tomatoes (lots of them), still warm from the sunshine, and hopefully I’ll remember to take a few pictures between bites.