This weekend I faced what I couldn't ignore any longer - my withered, frostbitten garden.  It was a graveyard of half-chewed butternut squash, unpicked tomatoes turned a sickly pale color, and overgrown broccoli that never seemed to reach its peak. 
Sunday was a sunny but chilly day, and to be completely honest, what I really wanted to do was put my pajamas back on after church and pretend I was watching the Patriots game with Ethan so I could have an excuse to eat lots of chips.  But my garden was calling to me, one last time, and so I put on real pants and ventured out into the blustery November afternoon.
One of the only pops of green color still thriving in the garden was a small patch of arugula in the center that I had replanted midway through the summer after harvesting the first batch.  You gotta love that hardy arugula.  It was the first plant to break the earth in the early summer and the last plant standing in November.  If I hadn't harvested the rest of it after taking this picture (and eaten it in a delicious spinach and strawberry salad for supper), I wouldn't be at all surprised to find it still standing at Christmastime beneath a couple inches of snow. 
Other than the arugula, an unruly patch of parsley, and some curly baby kale, everything else in the garden was dead and needed uprooting.  It was such a funny thing - in May I agonized over gently placing every seed just so, watered them with careful attention, and patted them into perfect mounds every time a speck of dirt fell out of place.  Now, I went at those plants like a kid who couldn't decide which new toy to play with at Christmas.  Oooh - here's a long stalk of something! I will rip it out of the ground! Oh, but over there is a tomato cage.  When I pull it out, I bet a tomato plant will come with it! I would drop one thing mid-row and go onto another.  Somehow, in this erratic fashion, I managed to eventually get all the major plants out of the ground.  The dejected veggies littered the perimeter of the garden.  Inside, only the weeds that I couldn't be bothered with remained. 
After gathering up all of the bent and occasionally mangled plant cages and wrestling them into stacks, I went about taking down the groundhog fence.  In retrospect, I still feel quite proud of that chicken-wire and wooden-stake invention.  It couldn't keep out the deer but there wasn't a single veggie ravaged by rodents after its installment.  Ethan had suggested I curl the chicken wire around a couple of stakes to make it easy to unroll in the spring, so I did just that.  Judging by the way the wooden stakes snapped out of the ground and had begun to rot, they'll likely have to be replaced in the spring. 
All the while I worked, I thought about what was above the ground and what was below it.  Everything above ground (except for that trusty arugula), appeared dead.  It was brown and ugly and shriveled.  But when I pulled a plant from the ground, it would unearth a dark rich soil and writhing earthworms.  And I thought of the green onions and chives, all wilted in the corner of the garden, and how they looked like they were dying but really, they were just sleeping for a while.  Because in the spring their bulbs will soak in nutrients and water and, miraculously, what once looked dead will come back to life.  And not only will they be alive, but they will add spice and flavor to everything they touch. 

This gives me hope. 

Anyone who has lived a winter in Maine knows that the days are short and the darkness and cold can seem overpowering, suffocating, life-squelching.  But if it can't even squelch the life out of a patch of green onion bulbs, then I'm not going to let it get me down this year, either.  

I tucked my garden in for a long winter's nap this weekend.  But I know the spring will come again and so it's okay for everything to not be green for a while.  


11/11/2015 12:46pm

Beautifully-said! And aww, Shelby :)

11/11/2015 5:38pm

Lovely post! =)

Anne Hemphill
11/12/2015 4:21am

Beautifully written. Just finished putting my flower gardens to bed and already looking forward to Spring flowers. Love the shot with the sun between the tomato cages.

Edna Boyles
11/12/2015 6:42pm

What a nice story, you have a wonderful way with words. I could definitely see this being a nice newspaper column. Keep up the good work Cutie :)


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    Deidre is a small-town Maine girl with a hearty appetite. Read more on the About Me page.


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