Monday, March 23, 2009

The Blessing of Fertile Ground

Autumn arrives in early morning,
but spring at the close of a winter day.
~Elizabeth Bowen

Spring is finally here, thank goodness. For some reason, this Winter seemed to last an eternity. But the weekend was and it seems like the whole next week will be comprised of perfect Spring days.

It makes a gardener feel joyful inside.

Over the weekend, I itched to get out in the sunshine. I will admit, the inside chores tore at the edges of my patience. Why was I washing dishes when I could be out there? At the first available moment, I called to the kids to put on their shoes and head out.

They whooped like a pack of wild Indians in a 1950's Western.

I guess I wasn't alone, noticing the sunbeam slanting through our yellow kitchen had a strength that hinted of warmth.

I spent Saturday clearing brush and fallen leaves from every corner of the garden. It was amazing to see the sheer number of plants ready to burst from the ground. Even the later Spring bulbs like hyacinth and tulips are a good three inches up. Our clematis has to many buds to count.

I can't wait for Easter pictures.

When I was finished, the compost bin was piled higher than I could reach and my husband was unwrapping our roses. I turned to the wildflower garden.

Now, I know you're not supposed to "weed" a wildflower garden. I don't weed, but I do prepare it for the growing season by removing thick mats of grass and creeping groundcover to make room for the abundant seed left there at the close of last year. I always add a little new seed -- a few annuals to brighten up the garden. This year, I mixed compost and peat and hard raked it in to the seedy top layer of soil. As I worked on Sunday, I noticed that there were the tiniest seedlings everywhere. It was as though they suddenly burst from their shells overnight.

Once the wildflower garden was ready and, with the help of three very dirty but enthusiastic children, we had transplanted our brown-eyed Susans to make a border at the back of the yard, I turned to the vegetable garden. Another, thicker layer of compost and peat went down. My husband and I turned it into the soil with spades to help lighten the brittle texture of the ground there. It's something we do every year. Slowly but surely the soil texture is improving.

I know we could build raised beds and be in total control of the soil characteristics. But there is something wonderful about using what God has given us, working with it, getting it under our nails and coaxing it to bear fruit that I find satisfying.

It's the one reason I would have a hard time leaving the Midwest -- fertile ground. We can grow anything here, and do.

I try not to take it for granted.

In the Springtime, I savor the sight and smell of freshly turned fields, the first mist of tiniest green in perfectly straight rows, the trees that grow tall because they are able to drink deeply and soak in the perfect balance of rain and sun.

There is no place in the world, I think, where life can be so simple and so fruitful at the same time. When the world is growing and you've worked hard to help it along, being thankful for it comes naturally - the seed of gratitude banked against the cold for so long showing its promise, seemingly overnight.

Who knew my soul needed to work the earth so desperately?

- Midwest Mom


  1. What a beautiful post! What a writer you are! Spring brings such growth and change, the newness such hope - the gratitude you write about makes me think that THIS is time for Thanksgiving, not fall!

  2. A beautiful post! As an aunt used to say 'Dishes will wait, a beautiful day won't'. Glad you opted for getting outside!

  3. When we lived in the midwest my grandfather had a beautiful garden and I have such fond memories of planting, tending and ultimately enjoying the "fruits" of the labor.
    I don't grow much these days. I don't have much of a green thumb and have pretty bad luck keeping things alive.


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