earlier in april of how terrifyingly intimidated I was of the garden and all she stood for. I'm still intimidated. Just this past Wednesday Fiona found me crawling between the hedge of edamame and a row of strawberry popcorn, in ugly tears, tearing up the weeds that my vacation had allowed to come up.
I am overwhelmed by this beast but I am also in awe. She has not been blessed with a gardener that loves her or respects her. She was instead laden with one slithering, fearful wretch that ignored, sabotaged, and abused her. For the entire month of July I neither watered, weeded, nor fought off the pests that plagued her leaves and fruit. I would only creep into her paths at dusk stealing a cabbage or a handful of radishes and scurrying away before the guilt of the garden caught me.
I had managed, by some grace of God (and the healthy, friendly interference from neighbors and friends) to plant the garden after our last frost at the end of May. Rachael had come by with tomatoes. Sarah had given me kale and chard. Billy, Toby, Aunt Molly, Nick, and I seeded cucumbers, corn, beans, beets, radishes, potatoes, winter squash, carrots, lettuce, sunflowers, and edamame. After each planting I would squish up my face, shrug my shoulders, and turn by back to her thinking Well, this will never work.
I had assumed, as the unfailing narcissist that I am, that the success of the garden would depend solely on my intervention. This I have discovered to be untrue. With the exception of my Planting of the Seeds the soil below and the skies above were all she needed. There was a week in June where I manned a vicious attack on weeds. I labored in her paths all day, every day for nearly a week until the rows were only straw and the beds were the green beginnings of plants and the dark cultivated soil around them. There were a couple spurts of concerted effort to destroy the cucumber beetles and the Japanese beetles. Both efforts (done by hand) felt chivalrous at first and then useless by the week's end.
I tried to be a better gardener. As the summer wore on I felt increasingly guilty about the way I had treated her. This would result in the aforementioned bouts of love and attention towards the garden. I found myself buoyed by the bounty she began to put forth. Proclamations of pride and plans for next year's garden have been loudly and boldly made. Two of my neighbors (unaware of my contemptible behavior) even complimented me on the "Beautiful!" vegetables.
This is all to say that the garden has humbled me with her resilience. I am emotionally wrought from the highs and lows I have had with her this summer. Albeit unwarranted, I am proud of her. I am emboldened by this season and feel a bit more prepared for the next.
Now we are in the thick of the harvest. Today is the last day of August. A full blue moon tonight will carry us into September. The cupboards are filling steadily with canned tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and berries. We will spend the next month before the first frost making sure all of the hard work by the garden was not in vain. In the upcoming weeks I will be sharing some of our new favorite recipes for canning, drying, and lacto-fermenting to ensure the garden's summer ends with the dignity and respect she deserves.
An aside: I have in the last week taken an interest in the traditional uses of capitalization and punctuation. Please, bare with me, as I am rather new to such formalities but am an eager, vicious, learner.