The garden is in. The mounds for the blue hubbard squash, the bamboo stakes for the Brockton beans, the tidy cucumber cages, the astonishing colour-changing sweet potato plant. The mulch has been dragged away from the blueberry bushes and piled around the squash hills. The first juice-dripping rhubarb and bouquets of asparagus have been picked, the radishes already two inches high. I've discovered a volunteer cherry tomato plant left from last year and put a cage over it so I won't inadvertently step on it, in the middle of the path. When it's larger I'll transplant it. Last year's onions are already sending out their seed heads. The rain has been just enough, the sunshine long and hot. Perfect weather for the garden. And right on cue, the peonies are blossoming. They say to plant the cold-weather stuff (peas, lettuce, etc.) when the maple trees blossom, and the rest when the peonies bloom, so we're right on track. I can't always figure out the calendar and the moon phases and the whole global warming effect, but the plants know. So I time myself by them.
Because I'm dealing with some irritating health issues this year, I can't garden as intensely as I have in past years. I have pared down from the usual 40 or 50 varieties of vegetables and chosen only those that won't require daily attention. This year I will spend more time in a chair, watching things grow, than I will weeding or harvesting. I'll buy my green beans by the bushel at the farmers' market. I'll support my local growers. And I'll discover just how well I can survive without the usual amount of dirt under my fingernails and straw in my hair. It should be an interesting experiment. I will either begin to drool and gibber and wall myself in the bedroom with stacks of old seed catalogues...or I'll find out that it's okay sometimes to just sit and watch and smell the lilacs. I will grant myself grace, forgive the frailties, appreciate each quiet moment. Cultivate gratitude instead of broccoli.
But if anyone wants a Zen exercise, they're welcome to come over and pick the teeny fronds of clover out of my gravel garden for me. I'll even give you lunch. I hope you like asparagus.