Reading While Knitting

Nothing complicated; nothing too exciting, but yes, I do knit while I read. As well as during many other domestic activities.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mrs MacGregor it isn’t

Thinking about patience and ways to exercise it always invites the universe to offer you ways to do so.

My sister and I have an experiment brewing – just how much of our food supply can we grow ourselves? We talk about it, we walk around our yards, waving our hands and envisioning different arrangements, different systems. We read books by John Jeavons, we price irrigation contractors, and rooftop growing beds. Where to put even more beehives? How much broccoli does your family want? Do we really have to move that shed? Why isn’t there more sun in this corner? Can I double the garden if I change a path into a walkway only?

And then I look at my garden area, and I sigh. Two years now, it’s lain fallow except for the hardy perennials and free-seeding annuals. I remember gardens when I had enough tomatoes to can all we needed, gardens with what felt like an endless parade of bounty, and I wonder where they went. When I look at the kale gone to seed, it's hard to believe that this will once again work as a garden.

So, with Eric’s concrete belief in the form of seed flats, I started planting today for the fall. My seed box used to be well-organized.

There has to be a good system for seed saving. Little bottles with corks? A notebook? We’ll start this experiment with messy seeds and see how it goes.

The patience part came when I realized how many years I’ve been pouring seeds into little hands and trying to get them to direct the seeds into some limited area.

Planting flats is like working meditation for me, calming, centering, but not with so many eager helpers.

Then it’s a different kind of meditation, one in which I repeat, “Give me patience, give me quiet. Appreciate they’re interested. Don’t mind that she’s just eaten a handful of carrot seeds – oh, ye gods, give me patience, breathe, breathe.”

Every parent probably knows the kind of “pleasant” talk which is really designed to push the kids into doing something else: “Want help with that, sweetie?” It’s not helpful, it’s controlling, and it’s probably better to say, “I cannot stand watching you do this for another nanosecond – aaagh, give me that right this instant” instead.

And yet, somehow, they're sown -- not as neatly as I would have done, but done nonetheless. Given the wonderful collusion between seeds and gardener -- we both want the same thing, after all -- there will be food in my yard again. I may even try growing some compost crops, just for yucks.

I'll try to remember the crop I'm really growing, though.

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At 3:39 PM, Blogger allisonmariecat said...

The little hands holding seeds so carefully, the stick with "carrt" adorable. I want to get more expansive with gardening (though we're limited by an eensy yard) so I can do this with Lilah. Although maybe I'd need to have a beer first or do some yoga breathing.

I feel bad, but I chuckled about the handful of carrot seeds.

At 3:41 PM, Blogger Katherine said...

I can see it working as a garden! Of course, I don't have to do any of the work. ; ) I wanted so badly to have a vegetable garden this year, but other house stuff got in the way. Next year for sure.

We have to give up the meditative aspects of all sorts of things, don't we? Ah well, they will be thrilled when their seeds sprout. And maybe they'll actually eat the broccoli (that's my hope, anyway).

At 5:22 PM, Blogger Morenna said...

Crooked rows drove my dad nuts. He actually snapped a chalk line for us to follow. It's a wonder he didn't have a stroke the day my sister and I pulled up half the veggie seedlings, thinking they were weeds.

I always have good intentions about keeping a neat, productive garden. Then the weeds get ahead of me and the bugs claim enough of the produce that it's not worth trying to can or freeze what I don't eat immediately.

At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Esperanza said...

The first time I planted seeds with my mother I was four years old. She chose big beautiful sunflowers. She carefully selected the seeds she would plant and asked me to hold the remaining. I followed her diligently while happily munching every last seed left to my care. I vaguely recall being impressed by a seed that would grow a pretty flower and were tasty too!

At 11:30 PM, Anonymous patricia said...

I will always have a soft spot for that Thing 3, since he's such a buddy to Mr. T. He's so dang cute planting and watering those seeds. And I just want to eat that photo of Thing 4 looking at the seed in her hand.

It may have been a grind-your-teeth-and-breathe experience for you--but those kids sure look calm and meditative in the photos. You're cultivating something good...

At 9:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patience is way overrated. Sending four healthy and intact children to bed at night is a much bigger accomplishment. Focus on those bigger successes, and the smaller ones will happen when they're ready.

At 1:10 PM, Blogger Tammy said...

I enjoyed this post. I have wanted a vegetable garden for years. Actually any kind of garden. It's just something I've never learned to do and haven't taken the initiative to learn.

Anyway, we always say "Never pray for patience!" Because you only learn patience through experience. ;)


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