Peaches Don’t Lie

Denial is a powerful thing. Today is June 22nd and I refuse to turn on the heat because I should not have to turn on the heat on June 22nd. I should be begging for mercy from the heat and humidity gods. Instead I dress in layers: sweatshirt, wool sweater, heavy socks, a toque for god’s sake. But I do NOT turn on the heat. It is summer.

It is somewhat warmer outside so, despite being sick, I go out to the garden. When I return, my partner asks me what I’ve been doing and I tell her I’ve been weeding and thinking. I tell her I’ve been thinking about survival of the fittest and how sad that really is because who and what is fittest seems to change from day to day. Or maybe that’s actually good because whoever is down one day might be up the next? These are the places my brain goes.

I was weeding and thinking about a film I just watched about walruses. Used to resting on the arctic ice after feasting, they now have to swim hundreds of miles looking for a place to hang out because their beloved ice has melted. When they finally meet land, they climb up the highest cliff and are so exhausted many fall back down to their death. Hundreds of them lie dead or dying on the rocks at any given time.

Here on the Atlantic coast where I’ve been living for the past seven years, young people I know in their 20s and 30s have decided they will not have children because of climate change. I ask and am told that yes, they would have liked to have children but feel they cannot, in good conscience, bring children into a world that is burning up, into a world where the youth will have to struggle in ways that we in North America cannot even imagine.

And yet still, they have not given up. They fight every day to make a difference, to get the rest of us to pay attention. So when I am in the garden, I have hope too. Especially in the spring. I see the pollinators that overwinter here in the north struggle to survive. And while some of them don’t, many more do.

It’s been a tough spring and a lot of pollinators are still hiding out in the mulch. Luckily, there’s a lot of food for them.

I started ground cherries indoors this year where they grew beautifully. When the time came to transplant them, I think the wet windy weather caught them off guard. I thought they were done for as they shed one leaf after the other. But I put them in the ground anyway and most of them have rallied. Most of them look like maybe, just maybe, they’ll make it.

First day out for the ground cherries when they were still at their healthiest.

And then there’s the peach tree. For 5 years now, I’ve watched a pit thrown on the compost pile root into a seedling and finally into a tree that is at least a few feet taller than me and produces the most delicious fruit I think I’ve ever had.

Whatever goes on in the world at large, nature goes on. We humans tend to forget we are part of that cycle. We’ve lost some of our grace but I’ll continue to hold onto hope.

And look at that … the sun just came out and it looks like summer again.

When We Need it Most

Last week a copy of the Whole Seed Catalog arrived in the mail for me. The Whole Seed Catalog is a catalog unlike any other. It is nearly 400 pages of stunning photographs of plants along with guides to growing and harvesting said plants. It includes stories of farmers and seed warriors around the globe. It’s filled with how-to’s on gardening. And of course it has that little white form that allows you to pick and choose and order seeds for yourself.

As if all of that isn’t enough, the whole idea of this catalog holds special resonance for me personally because I was one of a team of people who worked on a project digitizing the real Whole Earth Catalog in the late 1980s. Don’t remember the Whole Earth Catalog? Too young to have even heard of it? Google it. I am feeling transported.

And who amongst us could not use some transporting right about now. I mean every winter, gardeners look forward to thumbing through seed catalogues as we anxiously await spring’s warming soil. But this winter many of our heads are spinning and splitting from the racist, xenophobic, misogynistic coup that is taking place in the united states right now. Our hearts are breaking from the attack on Muslims in Québec City, the ranting of alt-right leaders in Europe. Sometimes you need a flower to soothe your battered soul and when all you have is this…

… it feels wondrous to flip through something like the Whole Seed Catalog. Though don’t get me wrong. I spent close to 20 minutes in below zero weather wandering through my garden of winter detritus. It is still a heart warming event to bear witness to Mother Nature and her always continuing cycles of life and death. There is always something new to see and learn and there is always beauty.

So as we do what we can to bring justice and love into our worlds, let’s also bring refuge. Let’s not forget that Mother Nature is a never-ending sanctuary of life lessons and serenity. Take it wherever you can find it. And pass it on to someone who could use a little peace and love.

Yes I do!

I come from the arts side of the corporate world but the corporate world nonetheless. So I understand when some of my friends from those days can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that not only did I walk away from a “successful” career but that I appear to now spend most of my time in the garden. And while not exactly true (I still do a bit of freelance work, I volunteer on Boards, etc.), it’s a fact that in the growing season I spend most of my time in the garden. And the reason I do that is because, selfishly, it keeps me sane. Literally. It is my meditation. My medicine. It feeds my other creative endeavors. It gives me food and beauty. It makes me happy. Even in black & white.

self But I don’t only do it for me. I grow food for my family and give excess to friends and neighbours near and far. I do it for the earth and for the generations who follow us who will be left with this mess that too many of us just sit around crying about. I’ve encouraged neighbours to grow their own food and taught them tricks to make the process more rewarding.

IMG_0930I also have an herb garden where I grow oregano, thyme, valerian, and feverfew year round. I plant rosemary and basil annually and throw in poppies and bee balm to round out the bed. We just dried herbs that will take us through the coming year and sent some more to family who, sadly, don’t live nearby.

New for me are flowers. The flowers obviously aren’t food for us but they are for the bees, other insects, and the birds. Plus they’re beautiful. So just as other gardeners have given me plants, I try to pass on as many seedlings as possible. I don’t really know what’s become of them all but I imagine some of them have grown into beautiful plants.

And somehow it’s the end of October already. The garlic is planted and everything else is mulched. And gardening time has slowed down. Until the spring.

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Some of the greens that we’re still eating out of the garden. Except for the parsnips and beets up front. For them, see next photo.

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Underneath this very thick layer of straw mulch are the parsnips and beets we’re hoping to eat all winter.

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Leeks thickly mulched. Hoping to eat at least through December.

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Mustard greens keep on volunteering.