When I was almost sixteen, I went to live with my dad. Things were falling apart in my life, and I was a broken person. I felt very small and very lost. My voice seemed buried under a web of lies and destruction--all self created. My dad's place was the only place left for me as I had busily burnt lots of bridges, and was unwilling, and perhaps a bit unable, to build them back up. My dad was gone a lot as was my step mom so the one summer I had there was pretty lonely. There was a big husky dog that I became attached to, and the garden.
My dad drove truck but I think at heart he was a farmer (still is). When I was little, he had a farm in the County with land, a small barn, and a wonderful old farm house. He was planting organic crops long before it became trendy. I used to read his issues of Mother Earth News. He planted a garden that summer even though he was on the road most of the time, and it became my job to look after that small plot of vegetables. I watered the growing plants, picked worms and bugs off of the leaves, weeded. It was hard work, and I grumbled but the grumbling was more a pretense. There was something important about keeping those young plants alive, and it became a way to keep myself alive.
As the years went on, I begin to dream of the city. The academic life beckoned to me and I forgot about plants. I created a person who did not like the earth or to grow things. I embraced a self that loved the city and the conveince of buying food in markets. I cracked jokes about that garden that summer even though those jokes made me cringe a bit inside. I never told anyone how it was maybe that garden that kept me from killing myself that lonely summer. As I had children and became more concerned about our food, I made some tentative plans to grow things but I always let it fall away. I sometimes gave voice to my longings for maybe a small farm someday.
When we found the small house, I was very excited to see plots in the front and back yards. I began to make plans for flower bed, herb circles, and vegetable plots. I was hurting and again the call to grow something in the dirt seemed a way to heal (not I should add that I want to die, this pain is very different). I decided to start early and grow some things in containers on our patio. And as I nurtured the tiny seedlings and then replanted them in pots, I felt the calming prayer that came with each little bit of hope.