The Garden

When she designed the garden she thought about practical things like the space between the raised beds being large enough for a wheelbarrow, the raised beds being tall enough that you could tend them without hurting your back, plumbing running to the beds so you could set a timer and not have to spend two hours every morning watering the garden. She did not think of things that would be just as important later and much more obvious like the garden itself being beautiful.

Due to the enormity of the project and the skill required to complete it, she hired a man to build it for her. They were on the same page, or so she thought, and she left him to it. Later that day when she came out to check on progress she was dismayed to find that things had not been begun as discussed. There was now a large step to get up and over into the garden, entirely impractical for the use of wheelbarrows, there were now large posts sticking up throughout the space which would later be used to help create a netted canopy to protect against birds.

The man explained to her the reasons for these things. She understood in practical terms why they were necessary, but did not understand why he didn’t simply tell her before hand they would be needed. Perhaps there could have been another way, a different way, a better way. This was to be the first of many disappointments and if she’d known she would have ceased work on the garden immediately. Sadly, the work continued.

Water lines were run underground and into the middle of each bed but they weren’t run until after the beds had been built and gopher wire strung and stapled. Now the gopher wire was cut to make room for the water lines. None of this was her plan. The water lines were plumbed such that they simply couldn’t water the garden as necessary and had to be re-plumbed and then re-plumbed again.

By now her excitement for the garden had waned and her dislike of the project and the way it was being handled had turned to loathing. The project was to be completed in two weeks time but suddenly the man in charge ceased to arrive. Nothing was happening in the half-contrived space and the deadline was drawing near. Every day the man assured her the project would be completed on time and every day no one arrived to work on it. She began to spend her afternoons and evenings out in the garden, working to build the garden space she no longer wanted.

When the final day of the project arrived and the man didn’t, she was glad she’d continued the work, irate that she hadn’t simply taken it upon herself to do it all herself to begin with, and grateful that at least by working on it herself she’d managed to do some things the way she wanted. When the man arrived two days later to “finish up” she told him not to bother and not to come back.

It was not as satisfying as she’d hoped. Like the garden, the dismissal of it’s creator was disappointing.

When the space was finally complete she drank a beer in celebration. Tomorrow she would begin planting. Her excitement for the garden returned.

The space was so large and her seed bank so full that it took the entire morning to plant half the space. She took a break for lunch, nothing more than a quick bite of apple and cheese, a bit of bread with real mustard and a few capers. She was back out and planting before the leftover mustard had begun to crust on the knife. She finished planting the second half of the garden and heaved a deep sigh with her hands on her hips and a smile on her face. She grabbed another beer and drank it while watering and singing to the seeds.

The sun came and went, came and went. The sprinkler system worked as it should. Around the fifth day she noticed a slightly different color to the luscious dirt in the beds. That would be the seeds starting to germinate, the little leaves still too small to see without a microscope, but their presence making itself known subtly. By the tenth day little leaves were obvious. And they were everywhere.

She took to spending the early evening on her porch where she could see the garden. She’d watch as squirrels tried every space they could think to try and get in, thwarted by the chicken wire all around. She’d watch as birds sat on the poles, pecking at the netting wondering how they’d get in, unable to. She felt some triumph, some vindication. Her crops would be safe from these free loaders.

As the days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months her garden grew. There was so much green! And red and yellow and purple and orange. The rainbow of her garden delighted her and she couldn’t wait to begin to taste the bounty it promised. Only after two months there was still nothing quite the right size and color to pick. Everything grew a bit stunted, a bit off. By the third month it was obvious that something was really very wrong. Her corn wasn’t as tall as it should be and the ears were no larger than her hand. The squash had flowered beautifully but the nubs growing from the vines were smaller than pickles.

Her disappointment in the garden returned. Looking at it from the porch she realized how orderly, and ugly it was. She watched as the birds sat on the poles, unable to get in, and she was saddened. She watched as the butterflies flew into the netting, unable to get through, and flew away and she was embittered. Even the parts of the garden that had been done right were clearly all wrong.

By autumn she was able to claim that she’d grown ten beautiful pea pods, five delicious cherry tomatoes, and one somewhat acceptable zucchini. The garden would come down. Perhaps she could still salvage the beds, but the posts and the netting and dreariness of the garden must be removed.

Winter came and took care of the netting for her. The snows were heavy and wet, so wet that it stuck to the netting, weighing it down, unable to slip through and land on the garden below. It was really quite beautiful to see this large space completely untouched by white. Until about the third day or so when the netting finally succumbed to the pressure.

The giant posts remained and she’d decided to leave them and use them to her advantage. In February, the time for planting peas, she placed seeds all around the base of each post. They would prove perfect for climbing peas in spring and climbing beans in summer.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

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