Monday, August 13, 2012

in clover: giving

As I feared in June, my garden this year is indeed a failure.  The only thing doing well is the basil and I am grateful for that.  The dill I nursed through the early spring... that looked so beautiful going into June...turned yellow, then brown, and finally withered away.  Michael had to buy a big bundle of dill at the Farmer’s Market for the one batch of dill pickles we’ve put up this year. 

Cucumber beetles took the dozen plants I had hoped would yield enough small cucs for at least one batch of gherkins this year.  I’ve harvested exactly two peppers.  Perhaps most disappointing is the lack of tomatoes, especially the cherry tomatoes.  I love cherry tomatoes.  My favorite is a variety called “Sweet Baby Girl.”   Cherry tomato plants are usually heavy producers so I limited myself to two plants.  Unfortunately I’ve harvested just a few handfuls...mostly from one plant. 

Michael and I sat in the garden one evening, sipping wine (me) and bourbon (him) , and discussed the irony of our nineteen years of gardening together.  It appears that the more we know (and the harder we try), the less success we have.  Our most successful garden was the one we planted at our former home, as newly weds.  We knew absolutely nothing.  We planted at least one of everything and our harvest was astounding.  When we moved to our current home , we decided there was not room for a vegetable garden.

And then, a few years ago, we decided to try again. I scratched out a tiny garden patch between our blacktop driveway and our neighbor’s privacy fence.  That garden didn’t stand a chance.  We got a late start....we did not amend the soil...heck, we didn’t even really dig deep enough. It was full of weeds and rocks and dirt clods and little pieces of blacktop.  The plants left to us at the gardening center were picked over more than once and I let them dry out in their pots several times before getting them in the ground.  And yet we had a big harvest.  I froze bags and bags of diced peppers and large batches of basil tomato soup. 

The next year Michael built a lovely raised bed along the driveway and we filled it with a compost and soil mix from a highly recommended local place.  We bought the best plants and I researched the best planting methods and for two years running....nada....failure.  Of course, we had drought and high temps this year and last year the compost was too hot.  There’s always next year......

Gardening can be quite humbling. 

A few weeks ago, Michael and I took a day trip to Bardstown, Ky.  We had a wonderful dinner with good friends in the evening after visiting the Trappist monastery, Gethsemane, in the morning.  At Gethsemane, I bought two wedges of cheese made right there by the monks. 

When we returned home, I found an egg carton sitting on our front porch.  At first I thought it was empty.  Neighbors sometimes save egg cartons for us.  But when I picked it up, I realized the carton was filled with something which I assumed was eggs.    I wondered who in the world would give us eggs?  I mean, we have six hens in the backyard! 

When I opened the carton I found not eggs but.....

lovely cherry tomatoes!  My friend had left me an egg carton filled with exactly what I desired but did not have....lovely sweet, red, homegrown cherry tomatoes.  I was thrilled. 

I ate a few right then and there.  The rest I used in a simple frittata....nothing but our fresh eggs, some salt and pepper, those lovely tomatoes, and the monk made cheese we bought at Gethsemane.  There were exactly NO leftovers from supper that night. 

My friend doesn’t have a large garden but she shared the bounty of what she had with me. 

In return, I filled the egg carton with what I did have, despite the failed garden,....a dozen eggs! 

She sent me a note and said that it must be “magic” that turned her cherry tomatoes in fresh eggs.  I think she’s right.  It really is magic when you share what you’ve got with others.   Often, one act of sharing inspires another.

I am convinced that sometimes we do not share because we fear that what we have to share is not “enough.”  But the truth is that often, we have no idea what our sharing will mean to someone else. 

For one friend’s birthday, I tucked into her birthday card a miniature book.  l liked the book and I thought she would like it.  But I had no idea that several weeks later she would call and say that the tiny book “changed her life.”  We never know how our sharing will affect someone else. 

Today, I resolve to be less fearful about sharing.  Today, I give thanks for friends and neighbors and family who share so much with me...big things like grace and love and support and small things like cherry tomatoes. 

peace and all good,



  1. It is interesting that you write about sharing one's bounty. I spent some time yesterday contemplating this. My neighbor saw me working in the front yard and he walked over with a bag of tomatoes for me from his small backyard garden. It was a simple gesture...7-8 tomatoes in a Wal-Mart bag but the impact was not small. It pleased me greatly not only to HAVE the delicious tomatoes, but also to be the recipient of their bounty. It made me remember my own parents' huge garden that would have easily fed half the county. I used to question whey we were all required to work so hard in that garden each year just to give so much of it away. Neighbors, relatives and friends would visit and take home huge armloads of corn, tomatoes, peppers, etc. OR many times my dad would load up bushel baskets of the same and DELIVER them! Why there could have been a $50-75 worth of produce in those by today's prices!! But it was about the love grown into those vegetables, the joy of nurturing tiny seeds into something delicious and life-sustaining....and the satisfaction of having OTHERS benefit from our labors. It was a two-ended JOY.


  2. I love that, EJ. Enjoy those tomatoes AND the neighbors who share them. :)

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