I celebrated my 53rd birthday a couple of days ago, and was feeling very happy to be where I am, doing what I’m doing. I was thinking back to my last days in New York City, and how I had put some pots in my windows to try to grow something for the first time in my life. I planted a hibiscus that didn’t survive, and a jasmine plant that climbed my window. When it flowered, my apartment smelled like a corner of heaven. It made me start dreaming about what it would be like to have a little garden. When I got an eviction notice, (I had a teenage daughter at the time and a one week old baby boy,) it might have been the blooming jasmine that made me decide not to look for somewhere else to live in New York City. So I took a mighty leap across the country, where I had a backyard for the first time in my adult life.
I didn’t know anything about gardening, but I had plenty of enthusiasm. My neighbor looked over his fence and shook his head and asked me why I didn’t just go to the supermarket, when he saw me digging a hole for a plum tree, and then decided to come over to my side of the fence and show me how to plant it (because he actually knew a bit about gardening.) My tree died anyway, and honestly I’m not sure how far I ever would have continued with my gardening fever if I hadn’t met my future husband a couple of years after I moved there. He saw what I was trying to do and not very politely pushed me out of his way. That’s when the backyard became more like our personal Garden of Eden. Pictured below is our son John in 2007, in front of a raised bed of corn and squash (which my husband broke through the concrete to construct,) in Vallejo, CA.
I’ve learned a lot about gardening since then, but the bounty which accompanies my husband’s presence made it imperative for me to learn more about what to do with all the fresh food overflowing the fridge and piling up on my kitchen counters. We used to talk about moving back east, and were forced in that direction by the real estate bubble burst back in 2009. With two more boys in tow, we were blessed to get some help from family and moved to Greenville, where we discovered a foreclosed property that actually had a spring. It has flowed continuously like a miracle since we’ve lived here. We went from a fraction of an acre to several acres.
I never anticipated it, but in the last few years I have gained a little reputation for cooking stuff people like to eat. My greater accomplishment is to have become efficient at processing the bounty during harvest time, so that nothing is wasted. It’s good to be alive and healthy and loved, surrounded by my family and the gardens we have worked to create and tended to for going on seven years now.