Garden Epiphanies: Growth Doesn't Have to be Hard


I had a vegetable garden this summer.

It was the last step of many. First, fence the yard so the deer don’t get in (5 years ago.) Take out three topped, dying trees and their roots to let the sunlight in (last summer.) Tear down the old rotting deck and replace it with a new one (this spring.) Of course Yancey did all these things while I supplied impatience and sandwiches. And finally, after eight years in our Bellingham house, there’s an L-shaped raised bed in one corner of the yard and the failures, successes, and epiphanies have begun.

We are definitely not saving money in groceries! I shudder to think what the little pile of cherry tomatoes on my counter cost us—the lumber, soil, seeds that didn’t work, then starts, and the mental bandwidth to water every day and get the neighbor to do it while we’re gone. News flash—this does not pencil out!

But the epiphanies have been coming, fast and furious. Gardening metaphors aren’t hard to find, but it’s a whole different thing to see it all for myself. I’ve been composing a series of posts in my head, and this is the first.

Growth Doesn’t have to be Hard

I started squash from seed in little trays, and made the mistake of planting everything that germinated. You can bet that went into my little learning notebook, maybe with some expletives—”Plant less squash next year!” I tried to harvest them when they were little, but if I went away for the weekend or turned my head for more than 60 seconds, they did their thing.

The wonderful a-ha from the whole fiasco is that growth doesn’t have to be painful or hard. Sure, sometimes it is. Sometimes we use metaphors like climbing mountains or, if we’re really down, the story of Sisyphus pushing a rock up a hill only to have it roll down again. All that is true, but sometimes, things just grow. Women have surprise babies. We puzzle on a problem and wake up the next morning having solved it in our sleep. We put off going to therapy with our mother for 10 years but, when the conditions are right and we finally say “yes,” it only takes one session.

I tend to be someone who repeats things like, “Well, you have to put in the work.” Okay, fine. But there are also miracles. Miracles like zucchini growing in the night, effortlessly becoming itself, taking the smallest bit of rich soil and spilling its star-shaped leaves all over the brown summer grass, making our earnest efforts seem silly. May it be so for you.