I am not the gardener I was in March, when the earth was thawing, and I stood on a blank slate, and the only green things were the points of the bulbs. I had springtime hopes, just as I always do. When I thought about August, I saw myself filling Wal-Mart bags with cucumbers and pickling them in the cool of Mema’s basement, my hands smelling like garlic and brine. I thought I’d steam up our kitchen windows with hot water to blanch mounds of tomatoes. I planted extras in every box and corner, after all. I took trips to Lowe’s and spent Dad and Mom’s money on bags of dirt. I went out of my way to find it organic— remember, I even stopped in at R&R that day I visited Mrs. Marilee.
I just feel a little guilty — a little wasteful — seeing as I haven’t harvested one tomato.
The deer ate the tomatoes, dear Lord, and they ate the cucumbers and sunflowers, and what they left behind, the heat made haggard. Papa Jay has planted a garden every year since I was born, and last week, he ripped up the plants, gave up.
The newspaper ran a feature on the local produce stand, and how it’s suffering from a tomato drought. When Mom stopped in to grab a few for dinner, she paid $2 a piece.
Should I take the hint? Call this growing season a wash? Just let the withered plants hang in the sun and wait till the stunted tomatoes turn pink and plop down?
I wonder if Adam felt this way, gardening east of Eden. I wonder if he sweated and tilled, only to get a few holey pieces of fruit, and if it reminded him of what he’d left behind. In a way, the priests in the tabernacle were gardeners, too. God had made himself a new home and the priests were new, little “Adams,” caretaking and tending the holy place. But they were even further from the garden than Adam had been, and the soil was covered with the blood of animals, and it sure didn’t look like the garden-home God had planted in the beginning. It smelled like burnt flesh, not sweet trees.
Well, I can blame the deer and the heat, and I can even blame the Great Fall, but it’s my fault, really. It happens every summer. I get lazy bones and hang up the hoe. I want the fruit without the work. But blaming and sulking never grew a good garden, did it now?
According to science, Thermodynamics have everything working against me, but then there’s you, O Lord, who say you’re making all things new again. I long for the garden (and the work of gardening) to be made new.
Come soon, I pray.