Some years are not for gardening.
This year my extended family needed me. My grandpa’s failing health has had me away from home all the days I can spare, and some that I probably could not. But given the choice of helping out family or digging in the dirt I turned my back on my gardens and left.
Not to say that I never touched a plant, I did pull a few weeds from the flower bed in front of the house every now and then. I put six tomato plants in the ground, rather late, and ignored the rest of the perennial flower beds around the house.
The ignored beds did what patches of growing things do best. They grew. They grew many beautiful flowers, and at least two bouquets made it to our table. Had I taken the time to harvest them I would have had a bumper crop of weeds of all kinds. There are now even some small trees poking up between the lilies. The rose bed outside the backdoor was the most impressive of the ignored patches. A thick plot of extra prickly roses I’ve never really liked grew wild until, even when I had a chance, the thought of wading into the thorns was daunting enough I moved on to other jobs that clamored for attention and promised less blood loss. The bindweed covered those roses like a blanket and I gave it a secret wink, I really don’t like those roses… Then, late in the summer a vine started growing.. and growing… and only the lawnmower kept it confined to the “garden” it came from. The rosebushes now devoid of their sickly sweet scented flowers disappeared completely. For a while the vine produced unfamiliar white flowers that I admired and wondered at as I slammed in and out of the back door on my way to take care of the poultry in the orchard or let the never ending stream of dogs in and out.
These last weeks I’ve been away from the house every other day and I’ve given up on the gardens entirely. Spring will come again with it’s promise of new beginnings and fresh growth. And I’ll wade through the mess of them then, happy to be outside. But now it’s fall and winter and freezing weather is fast approaching. Now I fly past the gardens to mow the orchard one last time, prepare the chicken house for winter and drain water lines.
Last night was the first frost of the year.
It was a light frost, many things were hardly touched, but the vine by the back door was blacked and withered by the end of the day. This evening, when letting the dogs out I glanced down in my neglected garden and saw it…
… I don’t know where the seeds came from, or what it’s supposed to be but this 15 pound gourd grew just 8 inches from the back door. Covered and hidden until now, it was a surprise that made us laugh out loud when we saw what we missed. And it was a reminder that life goes on even if we aren’t watching. My gardens will still be there in the spring and maybe they’ll have more surprises in store for me once I take the time to look again.
This is a story of my garden, and the things seen and unseen. But while missing the growing life outside my backdoor I’ve been living it at my childhood home. Helping my parents run the property, laughing over crosswords with my Granny and telling Grandpa about it all. Life goes on, even if we aren’t watching. All we have to do is decide where to look.