Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life!


The concept of a home garden totally intrigues me. I love the eat local, sustainable movement for several reasons: It makes sense, it reminds us of our connection to Mother Earth, it saves money and other resources, and it offers control over what comes into contact with the food we put in our bodies. That is why I planted a modest home garden, which I affectionately call “The Groovy Garden,” two years ago. The greatest benefit for me, however, has not been physical, economic, or  even aesthetic, though Groovy is lush and colorful at her peak. Rather, placing a humble seed or tiny plant in soil I own to watch the tiny stems develop, unfurl tender leaves, sprout promising buds, and yield an abundance of gorgeous, vibrant vegetables encircled with a dazzling yellow and orange skirt of protective marigolds  is a significant spiritual experience. It reminds me that I am fed from God’s very hand. Of course, eating local in not a new concept to folks around here. Many have a backyard garden, and everybody waits with anticipation for the multitude of roadside vegetable stands to open each spring. I have shelled untold buckets of peas and silked hundreds of ears of silver queen corn since I was a kid. Canning vegetables with Granny and her posse, which included Aunt Marcella, Aunt Lennie Mae, Nina Bradley, Sally Swain, Jean Surrency, Beatrice Small, Ida Mae McKinnon, Bernice Taylor, James Reynolds, and, unfortunately, me on occasion, was an education in several ways, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Jumping into the home garden trend was a bit risky for me because my thumb is not naturally green. In addition, I am a townie, despite the amusement this assertion provides my friend George, who is quick to remind me that I am less than five minutes from the country in my little four-traffic light town. Until two summers ago, I had never cultivated a vegetable, and I am still quite unfamiliar with farm animals, as I disclosed in my opening post. I maintain that it is possible to hail from a tiny rural town in the Deep South and remain unworthy of the designation “country girl.”  I’m still Angie from the block. (George is laughing out loud now.) Need evidence? When I was eighteen, I witnessed a horror that I’ve never forgotten. A very prolific but elusive mama cat had taken up residence at our house several years before and had produced an abundance of kittens for which we had to find homes. We would have had her “fixed” if only we could have caught her, but she maintained a healthy perimeter which no one breached without sending her streaking away like a calico torpedo. She was too smart for a trap too. I walked outside one fine spring afternoon to see Mama C. running in a tight circle instead of running away. Getting closer to her than I ever had before, I saw something furry and dark attached to her…um…undercarriage. Immediately, I flew inside and shrieked for assistance: “HELP! HELP! A rat is holding on to the cat’s behind, and it won’t let goooooo!” From nowhere Daddy emerged, broom in hand, and tore outside to save the kitty. I followed, panting at his heels. Suddenly, he stopped, turned around, dropped the broom, put his hands on his hips, and stared at me the same way Dr. Richter had when during a discussion of Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” I answered that an urn is something you sit on.

“How old are you?” Daddy asked.

“Eighteen, but….”

“Have you never seen a cat have kittens before?”

I had not. Except for the pamphlet about our changing bodies that I read when I was thirteen, I had picked up my knowledge of the birds and the bees on the street, and none of that lot had approached reality very closely. Heretofore, Mama C. had had the good taste to do her birthing in private, and our other pets had been spayed or neutered as soon as possible, so how was I supposed to know? Most of our lessons about reproduction at school involved pistils and stamens. Yawn. By the time the teacher got to the interesting part, I had checked out to wander a field of daisies with David Cassidy. I knew all about the birth process on paper, but live action? Not so much. I would have expected to find the cat in a recumbent position at least, not twirling like a dervish for goodness’ sake. We didn’t have youtube back then either, and television was much more circumspect. Today, the average six year old sees more in a week than I had in eighteen years. Again, a discussion for another time.

I do know, however, that God is a marvelous promoter of all life, even to those of us who have no talent for gardening. All it takes is willing hands, healthy seedlings, a bit of soil, and a hopeful heart. He’ll do all the rest. Just look at the pictures of Groovy above  to see what God can do.

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