My Husband

 

If I had written this morning, I would’ve told you about trying to write between morning tantrums, and then again amidst yogurt and blueberries and lots of chatter, while we watched the caterpillars in the container on the dining table, caterpillars the toddler found roaming the fennel fronds out in the garden. The garden now overgrown, jungle-like, tomato plants leaning on each other like drunk friends at the end of a long night. I would’ve forgotten to tell you that her dad took her outside to the garden, that in fact he was the one who spotted the caterpillars, who thought to get the little carrier from the garage and collect the fat critters carefully, fronds and all, a tiny, temporary habitat for her amusement and inspection. If we were a still life painting, we’d be called “Mother and Child Breakfast with Caterpillars.” You see, the father is not at the table. He’s already gone off to work, even on a holiday. Every day this man works. And yet, in the early morning hour before he goes, he finds a moment to walk to the garden with the bumbling, mercurial toddler, to spy a small creature, to gentle it into a container, to ask his daughter, what colors do you see? I don’t write enough about this man. All he does. All he is. Truest heart.

(Post 230 of 365)

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July Garden

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The July garden is a joy. Bright yellow marigolds, tomato plants twice as tall as the toddler, and still growing. We wait for the green fruit to ripen. Fennel fronds sway. She names the herbs as she picks them, basil, lavender, oregano, parsley! We harvested our first eggplants and sautéed them in olive oil. Delicious! I want the season to stretch out long and lazy, to slow to child’s time. I can’t help making this wish again and again, please last.

The children held hands, leaning
to smell the roses.
They were five and seven.

Infinite, infinite—that
was her perception of time.

-Louise Glück, “A Summer Garden”

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(Post 194 of 365)

 

Pepper Picking

Yesterday we harvested the first pepper from our first garden in our new home. Isabella plucked the pepper from the stalk and bit into it like an apple, then offered me a bite. It was mild and crisp and warm from sunshine, an altogether different taste than a store-bought pepper. We even ate the small stem and soft, white seeds.

(Post 175 of 365)

The Garden

In the garden. Late afternoon sun. Shoveling, raking, leveling dirt until my hands blistered. While my stepdad staked the fence. He pointed to the poison ivy I can never seem to identify. He persisted with staking despite all the rock ledge, found the soft earth. And we laughed about a politician, you know the one. He wrapped the wire fence, joining it to each stake, but I never once looked up from shoveling to see how he’d done it. The sun sank into shade. And my mom put on her garden gloves and plotted out the plants and I dug with my daughter’s yellow plastic shovel because I couldn’t find the spade, which isn’t a spade but a trowel. And the spade made me think of A Tree for Peter. Then the trowel was found. And my mom and I planted tomatoes and eggplant and peppers and herbs, and my stepdad quietly persisted with the fence. Until he was finished and sat on a rock to rest. And I didn’t think to get him water. We were digging and patting down dirt. My mom in her straw hat, kneeling at the garden bed, separating the basil, saying, remember we come from pioneers, we have pioneer blood. I had underestimated all the work, but they knew exactly what they were getting into, happily, without complaint. I tromped around in my bare feet, hauling dirt and water, holding the afternoon like a smooth stone, the kind you pocket and find a special place for so you can come back to it again and again, turn it over, catch each fleck in the light.

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Digging in the Dirt: 83/365

We wake in the dark at 5:00 am and my head is still heavy with migraine. Toward breakfast the day reveals itself as grey gloom. This is how April always feels, like a big grey headache. Stark branches waiting for green. Strained sun. Mud.

But later on we find organic potting soil and compost on sale and walk out of the store into a bright afternoon.

At home we gather garden tools and I hack at the dirt, clearing old roots and tilling the soil while Isabella digs with her shovel. We leave the back door open. Two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard. They chase birds and squirrels and crouch beneath the arborvitaes and roll in the grass.

It’s not warm out, but Isabella is barefoot, pressing down the dirt with tiny toes. I mix the wildflower seeds with dry compost and rake them into the bed. There are hummus sandwiches, cat chases, a rest on the rock. Dirt on our cheeks and noses and under our fingernails. I find the watering can and fill it. Dig up another bed, plant sunflower seeds, the Mammoth Russian variety, along the side of the house.

Isabella blows bubbles, hair falling across her face, sun streaming through the maple branches, cats leaping after bubbles. She says, “come sit with me, mama” and “I love helping you, mama.” I sit down next to her and she leans against me and we smile into each other’s eyes.

On the back steps, inside this April afternoon, we are tucked in the space of dreams, a flash forward I conjured three years ago in wishes and prayers and daydreams, wondering if it would ever come true. Here we are, together, as if by magic, caked with dirt, smiling. The spectacular ordinariness of us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden: 42/365

Sunshine driving the harsh chill from the air, the birds making their announcements, the days stretching out just a little longer before the sun sinks purple and pink into the marsh. Almost Spring, teetering on the cusp. I imagine everything green again. And we start talking about the garden. Chris says, hot peppers, pumpkins, tomatoes. I say, sunflowers, lettuce, peas, beans, cucumbers, carrots. We have some raised beds out back that will need new soil. Should we do any container gardening? Let’s make bean poles from driftwood! I wish we’d been composting. We’ll need a wheelbarrow. I haven’t grown a garden in six years. I picture Isabella watering the plants with her tiny watering can, picking strawberries, biting into ripe tomatoes. Warm sunshine, warm dirt. I cannot wait to get my hands in the dirt.