Perhaps it is the distinct shift in the air this morning - it was crisp out there first thing, and even a bit chilly when we woke up. Perhaps it is all the getting ready to send my oldest boy to high school that is occupying so much of our time right now. Perhaps it is the five year anniversary this week of our buying this farm. Or perhaps it is just the turning of the pumpkins to orange, the brightness of the sunflowers, and the baskets full of ripe, red tomatoes coming into the kitchen, signaling some of the last garden work to be done. Most likely, it is all of the above that is making me feel a bit sentimental and nostalgic right now, and the garden is no exception.
During a regular photo-album browse (the kids look at those constantly), I stumbled upon photographs of my very first garden on my own. We were living in Northern Maine, on the lake for the summer - just Calvin, Steve and I (and our two before-kid pups, of course). I bought some seeds, a shovel, and a watering can at the local hardware store, and toddling Calvin and I put that garden in, behind the lake house. Directly, in the shade. And directly, in the path that moose traveled often. Both of those things did nothing to make it a booming garden by any stretch, but oh thank goodness for zucchini - the ultimate first time gardener's confidence booster! We had a lot of that, and some carrots too. And a few flowers, though I remember that it wasn't until late in that summer - well after I had planted everything - that I actually learned the difference between 'annual' and 'perennial' that was plastered on the cover of those seeds packets. Calvin and I were at that house together all day that summer, with no means of traveling elsewhere. I remember going from lake swim, to backyard dress up play, and to the garden, where he had a corner he could dig in to his heart's content - tiny construction vehicles and a hard hat to boot. I loved that shady little moose-trampled garden.
The next year found us at our house in Portland. And there, with a large garden bed somewhat ready for us from the previous owners, we set to work in creating something even bigger. Newborn Ezra was often on my back, and Calvin was always at my side, as we planted and weeded, harvested and learned SO very much. Papa joined us after work and on the weekends. And there, our family grew. Eventually, we put a swing set right next to the garden, and I remember countless summer days over the next eight years of working in that space - some years bigger than others, some years more productive or less - to the sounds of first one, then two, then three and eventually four squealing children swinging and sliding and playing.
The garden, in so many ways, has been the landscape of our summers for so long now, that I can't think of the season without feeling the dirt under my fingernails and the baskets of food in the kitchen. Summer, always my favorite season anyway, became even more wonderful and meaningful to me, once I discovered my love for keeping a garden. This year, of course, is no exception. And as it starts to wind down, and as we turn the calendar page, and as the kids grow and head off in new and exciting directions, and as I age....it seems as though the importance of the garden in my summer days only becomes more so. My heart, for certain, is happy there. And I am so grateful that the effects of that - both on my heart and on my pantry shelves - last all the year long.
. . . . . .
During the growing season, I share a garden update once a week. If you are doing the same (on any day of the week) in your own online space, please leave a link in the comments section below so that we can take a stroll through your garden! Or simply, in your words, share what you've been up to in your own garden. Be sure not to miss the comments of these posts, as the garden wisdom shared by all of you is such a beautiful thing to see - I learn so much every week! Thank you, friends. And blessings on another year in the garden!