Whatever may be the tensions and the stresses of a particular day, there is always lurking close at hand the trailing beauty of forgotten joy or unremembered peace. – Howard Thurman
The garden is intense right now, y’all. The viney things are sprawling. The tall things are immense. The stretchy things reaching. It’s amazing, miraculous, even.
In the bed closest to the farmhouse, the okra is beginning to put out her pods, and while the zucchini, yellow squash, and cucumbers are waning, the butternut squash is pushing his vines out into the grass a few inches every day.
The strawberries a bed over are taking on the johnson grass I have yet to pull and sending runners around like tiny sentinels of next year’s goodness.
And in the big bed, where the peas, kale, cabbage, and lettuce have already finished this year’s first act, beyond the Vegas-style colors of the swiss chard stems, the corn is tassling and the cucumbers blossoming. Soon, the farm stand will be flush with red globes and silky ears.
Then, I will know summer is closing out.
I have dog-eared the corners of the Territorial Seed Company fall and winter catalog, and I”ll be putting in our order soon. I’ve already picked up radish and pea seeds from the local farm co-op, and those will go into the ground soon. Radishes tomorrow in fact.
When the hottest days of the year promise the soothing breeze of autumn, I’ll put in the rest – more broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, kale, carrots, garlic. And they will put down roots and tiny shoots in those warm days and then hardy up into my favorite time of the year.
Gardening is – in essence – a long act of anticipation followed by bursts of celebration so intense that your tongue tingles.
Life on a farm is the long game. Maybe all of life is the long game. We try things and find what works and what leaves us with worm-infested waste. We sketch out a new layout and try to make the most of the space we have in our days. We discard what we cannot consume, deciding not to waste the gifts of seed and shit there again. We plan to plant more of what we love, piling those beautiful vines of life up as high as we can where they can get light and rain and the breath of wind.
We have plans for God’s Whisper Farm – hopes big and small – and when I do not check myself, I want them all right now – the barn finished, a season of weddings scheduled, a wall of day lilies around the Memory Garden.
I loathe money most days because I feel like it holds me back, but today, when I can coax myself to contentment, I see it as reins, pulling me back and keeping me from running myself too hard.
Next year, Philip and I are already planning for how to take use of that vertical space above the earth and help the cucurbits grow up, not just out. We will replace the cattle panels on the fence just behind the farmhouse with welded-wire footage, and use those panels to grow the beans wide and tall. We will find more tomato cages before all of them are sold.
We will surrender the beet patch and try eggplants instead. I will remember that people prefer the sweetness of small yellow squash and zucchini to the girth and impressiveness of a vessel a few days older. I will be more diligent about the cabbage worms.
But for now, I will don my rubber shoes and head out into the dewy Sunday morning to find what gifts today has brought and tucked under green leaves. I will seek the first hue of red on a tomato and give the peaches a twist to see when they are ready to fly free of their branches.
I will slice a cucumber and eat its goodness like honey, swallowing the seeds as fuel for the next planting.
What in your life feels like it’s part of the long game? Do you bristle against the process? How have you found a way to settle in?