In the spring of the year we dream of all the possibilities the summer will bring. We prepare for the work that needs to be done and make plans to hit the lake and take long rides to hunt for raspberries.
We clear the deck of snow and ice and wait patiently for an evening warm enough to enjoy a cocktail out under a setting sun where we eye the garden and visualize it’s late summer bounty…
Yes, in the longest winter of our lives, we dreamed of our garden. Of plump, ripe tomatoes. Of cucumber sandwiches with bacon. Fresh garden carrots, with a little dirt still stuck in the cracks. The snap of a pea pod. The crunch of a bean steamed with butter.
The satisfaction of the taste of our growing things…
This May I helped Pops plant those little seeds in neat rows, the cucumbers in mounds, the tomato plants neatly caged up. We hoed and weeded and watered and watched those little seeds sprout…
We covered them when the frost threatened…
And then we left for Minnesota for a little getaway, hoping that the rains would come and keep things moving along…
Hoping the sun wouldn’t scorch things while we were gone.
Hoping the hail didn’t tear the leaves.
That’s the thing about North Dakota. Growing things have to grow fast, we don’t have much time for stretching toward the sun.
The weeds know this better than any other living thing I decided I when I went to check on our little plot of dirt when we made it back home.
“Where are the pea plants? Where are the carrot tops?” I exclaimed as husband and I started pulling up little thistle plants and vines that didn’t belong.
“Wow, I something’s wrong! There should be peas here! They should be tall and lush! There should be carrot tops for crying out loud! Keep pulling, keep looking! Get Martha Stewart on the line, we’ve got issues here! A garden emergency!”
Husband just shook his head and calmly pulled and hoed at the things that needed to be pulled and hoed…
I grabbed the hose and sprayed frantically, cussing my black thumb and the idea that we had the guts to abandon a garden for a week at such a crucial time.
Could it be that we won’t have peas this year? Could it be that we won’t get fresh garden carrots or beans on the side of our steak supper?
Could it be the weather?
Could it be too much rain?
Could it be I planted things too deep?
Could it be…none of these things…
No. It’s just her.
See her there trying to hide behind the patio furniture?
She’s taken over. It’s a buffet and it’s her “all you can eat” secret.
And she’s at Mom and Pops’ every night.
Her favorite dish? Peas.
Dessert? Mom’s geraniums.
And nothing can stop her. Last night I heard her hissing at the dogs.
Step out on the deck and she barely lifts her head, each bite and munch crushing our garden dreams…
A million acres of sweet clover and this girl prefers Pops’ tomatoes.
Funny how, in the middle of the deep freeze of winter, our summer memories skip over mosquito bites, black flies, pig weeds that grow over our heads, barn swallows that make nests in the garage and shit on my car and pretty, bossy, little deer that bite the heads off of petunias.
Ah, every season has its battle. This week it’s all about ours…
Cheers to the best parts of summer and here’s hoping all your house guests have been invited…
My column, Coming Home, appears Sundays in the Fargo Forum and weekly in the Dickinson Press and Grand Forks Herald.