In August of last year I proclaimed myself an Erstwhile Gardener. An Erstwhile Gardener being one who is a former grower of living things, one whose garden dreams have been arrested, one so weary of the battle that dried asparagus and chrysanthemum stems stand through the winter and right on into the summer if no one else takes them in hand. I scoff at the Martha Stewart Gardening Issue, I too thought I had a green thumb when I planted in locations that only required seeds, tossed haphazardly in the ground.
Today is spring. Spring brings hope. Reluctantly I take the rake in hand and am irresistibly drawn to weeding, and to hope. This is a vain, misguided hope. This hope will be chewed through like Swiss cheese. This hope will be damaged at the roots by the tunneling mole. This hope will be beaten down by the rain, by the hail, or by the children. I'd like to tell you this hope will persevere, but I can't. Still I am unable to restrain myself. I hum Great is Thy Faithfulness while the breeze blows soft and a stick battle rages across the grass, one lone boy against a host of invisible enemies. My finger nails are black and I feel the dirt, wondering if there's any promise. Kara builds a kite made of plastic that cannot fly. I think of Habakkuk 3:
Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food...
Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
I come in and I look at seeds and wonder if there's still time to change my mind and order a few, just a few, more varieties. What about a red okra? It ought to grow, this is the South after all, I could concede a little ground. I'm vowing to plant a few, just a few, things; lots of basil, some Pink Heart tomatoes, Japanese Long cucumbers, Little Gem lettuce (if you grow heirloom seeds for no other reason, at least do it for the names). The problem is that stinking seed catalog, mine is from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, is like a trellis for the hope in my heart. I'm defeated before I have begun, yet I can't stop myself, hope's tendrils have wrapped round my heart. I do have plenty of seeds from last year's marigolds, and as an alternative I could carpet my beds with simple, indefatigable cheer. But I am afraid it's too late.