in the middle of things

June 25, 2011

Few things in life have a definite start. As for chronicling a garden, where can you begin? Late winter, probably, with the garlic and chives that poke up even before the bulbs. But then, the things that come up in March had their start the previous autumn. Even the seeds you put in the pop-up peat pellets came from another year’s plant. As for the garden itself, what state would you consider tabula rasa?

When I first moved here in 1994, the backyard had no exposed soil, but the previous tenant (longtime, owner, lately deceased) had grown tomatoes in large wooden containers. It’s an Italian neighborhood, and the yard has a hot, Mediterranean southern exposure. At that time, some of the upstairs tenants (Poles) were growing flowers in boxes out back. They used to call in my kitchen window to me when they were out watering which was…friendly, if slightly invasive. A few years later, my husband and I bought the building and renovated the yard by digging up some of the concrete. The exposed soil was rocky, urban, and unpromising. My husband (M) tested the soil with a ph kit from the hardware store next door and announced that we had to wait a couple of years for the soil to rinse. When it finally came time to plant things, I thought it looked like some vacant lot. “Nothing is going to grow in that crappy soil!” I told him. He gave me his stern, English look and said: “Shush. Wait.” That season we had tomatoes, herbs, beans… was that the start?

I could narrate the evolution of the garden all day (and maybe in a later post I will), but we are living here in today. Today is the 25th of June, 2011. Today my husband has been dead 1,137 days. Today there are fifteen hours and five minutes of daylight. Today I ate the first tomato of the season, a yellow cherry. Today is the day the Lord made; in the middle of things, a kind of rejoicing, a shoot perhaps of glad.

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