Eating Local for Urban Families. Gluten-free and Dairy-free, too!

Friday, August 6


It's funny how sometimes a garden can mirror the landscape of your life.

My plan was to get all the starts and seeds in the ground before the SXSWi conference in March. Mother Nature had other plans and rained us out most weekends. We got the dead old plants out, prepped the soil with fresh compost, and that was as far as we got.

I came back from the conference exhausted (as usual) with a tremendous amount of work to get done (so grateful) and didn't touch the garden for weeks. Eventually we did get some seeds in the ground.

And then at the end of May my father died. Suddenly, unexpectedly.

But in the wake of all the grief and confusion and so many things to do came unexpected kindnesses, a deeper trust in special friends, and our busy life kept on.

Despite my neglect of the garden, things grew anyway. Amaranth came back in the same spot it had grown in last year. I still don't know what to do with this stuff. But I'm happy to see it there. It's pretty.

Work has been something of an experiment this year for both Aaron and me. Aaron left his job last summer, did some consulting, and fleshed out a start-up idea that had been brewing in his head for years. Now that that he knows it has legs this idea is now an official side project and he's looking for a fulltime gig. Meanwhile, my freelance and consulting became the steady work in our house. I got to work on some interesting projects with smart people...and now I hope to get paid for all of them. Oh, this economy.

I've never planted tomatoes in my garden. It doesn't get enough hot sun for enough hours in the day, I always said. But two tomato plants decided they liked the kale patch and would set up shop. Sun doesn't seem to be a problem for them and now they need to be staked (I'll get to that someday). Just seeing them when I water (or when I get to watering) reminds me that even things I think aren't possible, or aren't worth starting, can work out just fine.

After last year's squash took over my driveway I vowed to clear a space at the front end of the garden for zucchini and pumpkins. I never got the starts (or did I, and let them shrivel?) but pumpkins and watermelon (!) decided to set root in that spot, with out my help. I was grateful.

The grass grows. The children grow. The bees come and go.

And now it's August. I'm thinking about fall planting (I'm probably late on that). We're starting to harvest the greens that did grow, despite the cats digging up most of the seeds and shitting everywhere.

And when I stand at the end of the driveway and look over my garden and see the towering sunflowers (also, interlopers), the crocosmia grown from bulbs from my dad's garden, the adirondack chairs I set up to make a lounge in our carport, I think this is a pretty great garden.

And I wonder: Do I have it in me to keep this garden growing, to make it what I want it to be? To make it into a place of beauty and a place to welcome friends, a space that feeds my family? Am I willing to dig deep, turn the soil, see what's underneath? Can I put in all the hard work that's required to get what I want?