Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What Does Your Garden Grow?

I would like to thank Liz @ Eternal Lizdom for assisting with today's post:


I forget how I first came upon Ca-Joh's blog. But I can tell you that one of the reasons I keep coming back to Ca-Joh's blog is the Friday Feast.

I have a thing about food. I know I have emotional connections to food. I love food and I love with food. I make food to lift spirits, show that I care, and seek out approval. I like to cook but only if the food is good to the people eating it. Same with baking. I cook and bake for others- not so much for my own pleasure.

This summer, I've embarked on a new project that I've been tracking on my own blog. A vegetable garden. Tomatoes, yellow squash, green beans, cucumbers. I also have a blackberry bush.

It's been wildly successful beyond any of my expectations. My husband built a great raised bed. My mom started the seeds and did the planting. My husband and mom mixed the top soil and manure to create a nourishing environment for growth. We watered and weeded and waited.

And my garden produces. Cherry tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, roma (plum) tomatoes. We've picked 4 yellow squash. 8 green beans (only 2 plants). Cucumbers are slowly growing. Blackberries ripen up regularly and are eaten directly from the vine (my kids have no patience for rinsing first- and I can't blame them since blackberries taste best when still sun warmed).

But I've noticed something lately. My garden achieves more than simply producing produce. My garden has opened doors and lines of communication. Who knew a simple tomato plant had so much power?

We've never been very close to any of our neighbors. We're friendly. But not friends. No shared meals or big cook outs. I know that we could ask favors of certain neighbors and I know we get annoyed by some neighbors and I am sure we are annoying to some neighbors, too! But no playdates or regular chats. Just friendly greetings, waves, a brief stop to chat when passing by.

We have a next door neighbor- Shirley. Up until a few weeks ago, it was Rob and Shirley. Rob was a real estate agent. In fact, he was the agent for the people who sold us our house. About a year ago, Jeff and I began to notice that Rob was… different. At first, we honestly just assumed it was that we only saw him when he seemed to have just enjoyed a few beers. Soon it became evident that something else was going on. We assumed it was maybe a small stroke. We didn't want to be nosey so we never asked. Shirley and Rob have lived next door for years and years. They are very much a part of this neighborhood, of our street. They have grown children, a grandson.

Turns out, Rob had Lou Gehrig's Disease- ALS. A slow, painful, crippling disease. A few weeks ago, after a vacation at the family lake house, Rob stopped breathing. After a year of slow degeneration, he passed before the disease completely incapacitated him.

Shirley has watched all of our garden preparations. She has admired the plants as they grew. We've hugged over the fence, talked while I weed, laughed as I watered.

Last night, I shared tomatoes with Shirley.

Our garden doesn't just grow tomatoes and green beans and squash. Our garden also grows relationships. Small acts of kindness, growing in good soil.

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